The full route of New Zealand's round of the 2010 World Rally Championship has been confirmed by Rally New Zealand's organising committee with the release of Rally Guide 1, the event's first official document for competing teams.
Rally New Zealand's clerk of the course Willard Martin notes that new WRC event guidelines now allow greater flexibility in planning the rally route to include a mixture of roads and stage timing last used more than a decade ago.
"For 2010, we have options such as mixed road surfaces in a particular timed rally stage, starting earlier or ending later in the day and the use of remote service parks outside Auckland," Martin explained.
"Competitors are allowed just the one specified Pirelli tyre, which will be a gravel tyre for New Zealand, yet we'll be sending them through stages such as 'New Franklin', near Glen Murray in north Waikato, which has both tarmac and gravel sections, so the potential for exciting on-the-road action is extremely high!"
The opportunities for fans to get close to teams and cars abound throughout the week leading up to the three-day rally, which officially commences with the ceremonial start at Auckland's Viaduct Harbour at 6.30pm, Thursday 6 May.
"Day one, Friday 7 May, sees the top seeded driver pairing depart the service park at Queens Wharf at 7.15am to head north for the first stage of the rally, 'Waipu Gorge'. The day's nine stages include 'Cassidy' with the iconic Hella Bridge on Swamp Road, just north of Paparoa, offering spectators a fantastic viewing point as the cars jump the hump-bridge twice during their two runs.
"Friday also sees all competitors – from the fastest WRC drivers to the smallest two-wheel-drive cars in the field – rendezvous in the Whangarei service park. The leading cars will be at Whangarei's Quayside Town Basin for about an hour from midday where there is a brief opportunity for promotional activities and autograph signing outside the service park.
"We intend to finish day one with a super special stage in the Auckland Domain, bringing competitors into the heart of Auckland City for legions of Auckland's rally fans and families to enjoy the WRC spectacle close to home. We are currently working hard to secure the consent for this Domain stage to proceed."
Saturday's first stage is 'New Franklin' with its mixture of road surfaces, which leads into the day's action through the Franklin and north Waikato districts. Competitors tackle eight stages in total, comprising a set of four stages repeated once and including a super special stage at the new Hampton Downs race circuit, just to the south of Mercer.