Auckland City Focal Point of 99' Rally.

Auckland City will become the focal point and dominant image for competitors, spectators and the world during Rally New Zealand which will start on 15th July next year.

And the city's latest and most recognised feature, Sky City Hotel and Casino in the Central Business District, will be the Rally Headquarters throughout the period of the rally.

The 1999 Rally New Zealand, the 29th presentation of the event, is the 9th of the 14 rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship.

The organisers took note of suggestions made by the teams and the FIA that the rally should capitalise on the international image of Auckland City and it's major land marks.

"I discussed the move to Auckland with a number of teams and FIA officials during my recent visit to England for the Network Q Rally and was encouraged by the measure of support for the changes," said the Chairman of Rally New Zealand, Morrie Chandler.

The start, in the early evening of Thursday 15th July, will be located amongst the yachts on Auckland's waterfront.

The Rally will use the Manukau Super Special Stage in reverse grid order on the Thursday evening and again as the last stage the following day after the cars have completed the West Waikato and Raglan regions.

Leg Two will use the Kaipara and Maungaturoto regions on the Saturday followed on Sunday by the Maramarua Forest.

"We anticipate about 400 kilometres of special stages and plan to have the event finish at the Manukau City Velodrome followed by the prizegiving at the Casino in the evening," said Chandler.

The other major change to the format is the use of only one service park per day, which will assist in reducing the costs for the teams.

A four day reconnaissance programme between Saturday 10th and Tuesday 14th July is planned and the organisers intend to seek FIA approval for a two pass per stage schedule using standard road tyres.

Rally New Zealand starts at Auckland with the Super Special Stage on Thursday July 15 and finishes on Sunday July 18 at the Manukau Velodrome after competing in the West waikato and Raglan areas, Maungaturoto region and the Maramarua Forest.