A new challenge awaits rally competitors with the Gold Rush Rally of Coromandel taking to the roads around the Peninsula on August 23.
Based at the seaside town of Whitianga, the Gold Rush Rally is a new addition to the national rally calendar and hosts the fifth round of the 2014 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship driven by VINZ.
The roads in the area were last used in a national event during the 1979 Motogard Rally of New Zealand.
The contrasts of the Coromandel Peninsula ranges, rolling farmland and twisting coastline will provide a spectacular backdrop for National Rallying action.
Gold Rush Rally of Coromandel Clerk of Course Steve Foster says the Peninsula roads will provide a fantastic location for competition.
“Competitors will know they have been in a rally at the end of this event. There is everything from technical twisting sections in the hills, to fast flowing roads in the valleys,” says Foster.
The event will commence on Friday afternoon with a Rally Show and Ceremonial Start on the shore and marina’s edge in the township of Whitianga.
Cars and crews will be on display at a pre event rally show in Blacksmiths Lane, providing an opportunity for the public to get up and close with the cars and stars.
On Saturday morning, rally teams will then depart from the events base at the Mercury Bay Sports Complex for nine special stages covering close to 140km of competitive distance.
The first stage of the event, Ernslaw 1 (11.08km), is just outside of Whitianga, and takes crews up into the hills through well-formed forestry roads.
After a tour down the coastline, the second stage of the event is the famous 309 Road.
At 14.45km, the stage winds and twists from one side of the Coromandel Peninsula to the other through native bush and farmland.
Drivers race against the clock back towards Whitianga for the first Service of the day back at the Mercury Bay Sports Park.
Following Service, another iconic Coromandel road awaits with the 23km’s of Tapu–Coroglen taking crews back across the Peninsula.
Starting at Coroglen, this stage is open and fast, finishing on the Western side of the Peninsula at Tapu.
Another coastline tour north to Castlerock for the next stage, which starts on a section of tight forestry road, winding back down the Peninsula to join the 309 Road for the second half of the stage.
This completes a very challenging and demanding loop of stages.
Another service back at the Sports ground before a repeat of this 47 kilometre loop awaits.
A spectacular tarmac publicity stage in Whitianga alongside the picturesque waterways will bring rallying into the township before a repeat of the 11.08km Ernslaw test on the outskirts of Whitianga.
The final stage is a second pass of the Whitianga spectator stage to thrill the crowds before the finish celebrations on the finish ramp just prior to 5pm conclude the event.
“We have had fantastic support from the Thames Coromandel District council in putting this event together.
The combination of some great roads, the excellent Mercury Bay Sports Park facility as event base, and Whitianga as the host town are set to make the Gold Rush Rally a real highlight of this year’s rally calendar,” states Foster.
That view is echoed by the local region with Thames-Coromandel mayor Glenn Leach stating: “We’re really excited that an event of this calibre is being held in the Coromandel.
“We are looking forward to hosting all the crews, as well as visitors and supporters who are coming here for the event.
“This is a fantastic opportunity for people to see why the Coromandel is such an amazing place to visit, as well as an opportunity for our businesses to benefit from the increase of visitors during the winter months.”