The new date for the Propecia Rally New Zealand 2004 will be finalised by the world ruling body, the FIA in Paris this month.

The FIA has convened a special meeting of its World Rallies Commission to finalise the new calendar and format, following a raft of mooted changes to increase the number of rallies but reduce the costs to teams.

Propecia Rally New Zealand moved from October in 2002 to April in this year's FIA World Rally Championship and is set to move again, but not to the July date published in a draft calendar circulated last week.

"The increase to 16 rallies means a whole new look at the calendar," Propecia Rally New Zealand general manager Gary Upson said. "One thing seems fairly certain though, we won't be in April or July. The draft calendar circulated last week had us sandwiched between Turkey and Finland which would mean a third trip to the southern hemisphere for the teams.

"This will certainly not help achieve the desired reduction in costs to them and has not met with any significant support this week," said Upson, who attended the world championship event in Perth.

"And after our last two Propecia Rally New Zealand events have been run in spring and autumn, winter just doesn't seem right anymore."

Upson said he and Propecia Rally New Zealand chairman Morrie Chandler have talked to a number of FIA officials at the World Rally Championship event in Australia that finished on Sunday.

The most favoured options would see Propecia Rally New Zealand fitting in either after the South American rounds in Argentina and Mexico in May or aligned with the Japan and Australia rounds of the championship in October.

The World Rallies Commission, of which Mr Chandler is a member, will meet on 16-17 September to decide on the calendar and the format for the World Rally Championship for 2004.

This will include a proposal to reduce reconnaissance to a single run over the stages prior to the rally. A second run would take place on the morning with the stage run in the afternoon.

"They are uncertain if this second run on the morning of each race day would be in a rally or a recce car. The idea is that this will remove the need for teams to bring out tyre crews who currently run through the stages in separate cars before each stage.

"Another option they are considering is that recce remains a totally pre-rally activity with the competitive part staying on Friday to Sunday.

"We have no concerns with either May or October options for our event. There's a lot of changes to be considered by the Rallies Commission but we look forward to a definitive decision so we can move forward and plan our event."

 

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