Unbelievable Quality Of Entries For 1998 Rally New Zealand. Current leader of the World Championship and event favourite Colin McRae heads an 83 strong field of unprecedented quality as New Zealand hosts Round 9 of the FIA World Rally...
Unbelievable Quality Of Entries For 1998 Rally New Zealand.
Current leader of the World Championship and event favourite Colin McRae heads an 83 strong field of unprecedented quality as New Zealand hosts Round 9 of the FIA World Rally Championship from July 24 to 27.
The Scottish rally ace, three times winner of Rally New Zealnd between 1993 and 1995, will again have Nicky Grist from Great Britain as co-driver of their Subaru Impreza WRCar.
McRea currently leads the 13 round FIA World Rally Championship with 36 points after three wins already this year, and will be followed by the other New Zealand favoutite, Carlos Sainz and co-driver Luis Moya of Spain in a Toyota Corolla WRCar.
"Carlos is also second in this year's Drivers Championship with 31 points after victory at Monte Carlo and three 2nd placed finishes and is yet again proving to be one of the most consistent performces in this year's Series", said the Clerk of Course, Graheme Robertson.
"Each of the four teams vying for the manufacturer's title have entered two cars and part of our criteria for seeding the drivers is to separate them in the running order so that the service crews are not faced with both cars arriving at the same time", said Robertson.
Fourth on the road and thrid equal in the championship will be another Finnish favourite, 4 times World Champion, Juha Repo in the first Ford Escort WRCar.
The second Toyota in the hands od Frenchman, Dider Auriol and co-driver Denis Giraudet are fifth of the 1996 Rally New Zealand winner, Richard Burns and co-driver, Robert Reid from Great Britain in the second Mitsubishi.
The final two first priorty drivers are Piero Liatti and co-driver, Fabrizia Pons, both from Italy, in a Subaru and Bruno Thiry and co-driver, Stephane Prevot, in the other works Ford.
"There is little doubt that the winner of our round of the Championship will come from this leading group of state-of-the-art World Rally Cars, but the competition will be so intense we expect the leaderboard to change after almost every one of the 25 high speed stages", said Robertson.
"Spectators should also be aware that the top eight cars are issued with a competitor number at the start of the season as in Formula 1 and although Colin will be the top seed on Friday night and Saturday morning, his car will carry door banner number three",
The first of the FIA Teams' Cup cars and current European Champion, Krzysztof Holowezye in a Subaru Impreza WRCar drivers for the Stomil Mobil 1 team which is second in this new competition is seeded ninth. The Teams Cup competition is seen as the breeding ground for future works team drivers and world rally champions. The Polish driver will be followed by Marcus Gronholm from Finland in the Grifone HF Team Toyota Corolla WRCar, leader of this year's Cup series.
The first Group N production car driver is Gustavo Trelles from Uruguay in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV while the first of the eight Works Formula 2 wheel drive crews will be Harri Rovanpera from Finland in a SEAT Ibiza at 19.
"This is a fantastic field for our rally with 16 countries represented by 54 overseas teams and of these no fewer than 30 are on the FIA's first and second lists", he said. "To have this unprecedented level of participation on teh other side of the world from the recognised base of the sport and in such a difficult financial environment is outstanding".
The Rally New Zealand starts at Manukau City with a Super Special Stage on Friday July 24 and finishes at the Ti Papa Equestrian Centre near Clevedon on Monday July 27 after competing in the Maramarua Forest, Maungaturoto region and the rugged west coast back country roads around Otorohanga and Raglan.