King Carlos Sainz will be hoping for an ideal birthday present when he competes in this week's Propecia Rally New Zealand starting on Thursday.

Sainz, a two-time world champion and four time winner of Rally New Zealand, celebrates his 42nd birthday today [Easter Monday].

The Spaniard is handily placed in sixth placed spot on the FIA World Rally Championship table after fifth placing in the second round in Sweden and an impressive third in the last round in Mexico.

He is confident of a strong showing when the new 2004 version of the Citroen is launched for the first time in Rally New Zealand.

Sainz first won Rally New Zealand in 1990, the start of three wins in a row, before adding a fourth, all with Toyota, in 1998.

If he is relying on the goodwill of other drivers because of his birthday, then there are others standing in line. Production Car World Rally Championship contender Jani Paasonen turned 29 on Sunday and Peugeot's Harri Rovanpera was 38 last Thursday.

If birthday wishes are to be granted, then they may all have to stand in line for Dannevirke's Malcolm Stewart who turns 57 next Wednesday.

The former national champion is the oldest driver in the field, and the oldest outright is co-driver for Grant Barber, Kiwi Len Fisher who is 59. At the other end of the spectrum is 20-year-old Nick Marshall, the youngest driver in the rally. He is the son of former Rally New Zealand winner Mike Marshall, while his co-driver Erin Kyle, at 19, and is the youngest person in the rally.

With 40 year's spread between the oldest and youngest, it shows that rallying definitely spans the generations.