Rally New Zealand will return to Auckland in 2010 it has been announced, after organisers confirmed an agreement with Auckland City Council, supported by Tourism Auckland.

The event will take place from May 6-9 next year and is expected to be the fifth round in the 2010 World Rally Championship.

Rally New Zealand was based in Hamilton in 2008, 2007 and 2006, with its headquarters and service park at Mystery Creek Events Centre. Prior to 2006 the event was based in Auckland for 28 years.

"We're delighted to bring Rally New Zealand back to Auckland with the largest population base in the country," said Chris Carr, chairman of the rally organisation. "We extend our sincere thanks to Hamilton City Council, Mystery Creek Events Centre and the many organisations which have helped Rally New Zealand to be a fantastic event in the Waikato over the past three years.

"However, many positive opportunities become available with the shift back to Auckland, not least the much closer access for larger numbers of rally fans to all the rally action, teams, drivers and cars, which we are optimistic will contribute to a very vibrant and successful running of Rally New Zealand in May 2010.

"Rally New Zealand is one of the WRC drivers' most popular rallies. They absolutely love driving on New Zealand roads - just as we have a great heritage of getting out and enjoying the top level skills of these drivers among our beautiful scenery."

Rally New Zealand's clerk of course, Willard Martin said a central city location is being confirmed for the event's headquarters, while the service park, where fans can see WRC teams work on their rally cars, will be located on Queens Wharf before it undergoes a transformation into a publicly-accessible open space.

"With the move back to Auckland, we have the opportunity to take the rally route both north and south of our largest city, offering excellent spectator viewing," Martin stated.

Auckland city Mayor John Banks is thrilled to have secured another major event for Auckland.

"Not only will Rally New Zealand provide an economic boost and increase the profile of Auckland through the associated broadcast opportunities, it allows Aucklanders to get up close to the excitement," he added.

The event attracts extensive worldwide television coverage with an estimated audience of over 50 million in 186 countries, and is expected to inject $12.7 million into the Auckland economy.

Tourism Auckland chief executive, Graeme Osborne, is delighted Auckland will host this world-class event.

"The World Rally Championship puts Auckland in the international limelight once again, and will provide a boost in visitor numbers and spend for the region. I look forward to welcoming the international media, rally teams and their fans here next year."

The agreement between Rally New Zealand and Auckland City Council covers the next three occurrences of the event.

"With the way the WRC calendar is currently scheduled, after 2010, the next Rally New Zealand will be in Auckland in 2012," Carr summed-up.

"However we are working hard to put New Zealand back onto the WRC calendar on an annual basis. We note that Rally Finland has just signed a five year deal with the WRC promoters, ISC, to again run an annual event. Like Rally New Zealand, Rally Finland was affected by the FIA decision to go to an alternating biennial schedule between rallies around the world."

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