Rally driver Andrew Hawkeswood. Image: Supplied.
The Goldrush Rally of the Coromandel will get off to a flying start this Friday with a street party in Whitianga, before the racing begins in earnest Saturday morning.
More than 70 cars are expected to take part in what is round five of the New Zealand Rally Championship.
“I’d like to give a big Coromandel welcome to the rally drivers and their crews, and a big thanks to the Rally NZ organisers for holding the event again in our district,” says Thames-Coromandel Mayor Sandra Goudie.
“The rally revs up things over the winter when it’s usually pretty quiet and brings valuable visitor spending. It’s also good publicity for the Coromandel because the rally gets extensive national and international television coverage.”
Ben Hunt, who is currently leading the NZ Rally Championship will be racing. If he is to win this event, he will in the overall championship.
Eugene Creugent and co-driver Philippe Delrie, Jean-Louis Leyraud and co-driver Jean-Yves Morelli from New Caledonia, and Rifat Sungkar and co-driver Muhammad Redwan from Indonesia are also among the teams.
This year there is a new initiative – to show their support for the area, drivers and crews will carry out a beach clean-up on Sunday morning in Whitianga.
For Friday evening’s street party in Whitianga, Albert Street will be closed from Monk St to Lee St from 4-7.30pm for people to have a look at the assembled rally cars. There will be food stalls, late night shopping and meet and great sessions with the drivers between 5-7pm.
Coromandel’s More FM will be broadcasting live from the street part and you can duck into the French Fig café to catch Vegas Brown playing live.
Also on Friday, the rally cars will be conducting a reconnaissance of the stage routes. The vehicles will be clearly marked and travel in a convoy. The reconnaissance does not involve road closures.
The rally headquarters will be at the Mercury Bay Multisports Park on Moewai Park Road in Whitianga, where on Saturday August 17 people are welcome to visit the rally pits and enjoy the food stalls.
On Saturday afternoon there will be the ITM Kopu Super Special Stage on Moewai Road and Abrahamson and Dokato Drivers, which, like the other stages, is open for the public to watch, beginning at 4.30pm.
The rally racing takes place through Saturday on four routes, with the finish at Blacksmith Lane, Whitianga, which will be closed from Albert Street to The Esplanade from 4-8pm.
Full list of road closures and timings for the Saturday racing:
Kennedy Bay Road, Tuateawa Road, Waikawau Beach Road and Port Charles Road.
Kennedy Bay Road from house number 1424 to Tuateawa Road.
Including all of Tuateawa Road to the intersection of Waikawai Beach Road.
Including all of Waikawai Beach Road to the intersection of Port Charles Road.
And including Port Charles Road from the intersection with Waikawau Beach Road to the intersection of Colville Road.
The period of the closure: 6 hours from 7:00am to 1:00pm.
Cars will be travelling from Kennedy Bay to Port Charles.
From the Waterworks gate to House 1715.
The period of the closure: 9 hours from 9:30am to 6:30pm.
Cars will be travelling from the Waterworks towards Whitianga.
From the intersection of SH25 at Coroglen to house number 436 Tapu-Coroglen Road.
The period of the closure: 7.5 hours from 11:00am to 6:30pm
Cars will be travelling from Coroglen to Tapu.
Dakota Drive, Abrahamson Drive, Moewai Road
Moewai Road from the intersection of SH25 to the intersection of Abrahamson Drive. All of Abrahamson Drive and Dakota Drive.
The period of the closure: 4.25 hours from 2:45pm to 7:00pm.
From the intersection of Albert Street to the Esplanade.
The period of the closure: 4:00pm to 8:00pm.
For more information go to the Rally NZ website