Brakes go on rally until November
HRALLY opes remain high for highspeed rally competition on Bay of Plenty gravel roads this year — in spite of ongoing Covid-19 lockdown uncertainty. Rally Bay of Plenty was due to take place on Sunday and was to be the final round of the 2021 New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC). However, the Battery Townsponsored rally was postponed to November 21 and will now be a nonchampionship event. The new date will provide an additional five weeks to monitor changing Covid-19 restrictions. The format and rally route remain, using roads to the east and south east of Te Puke in the Matata, Pukehina and Rotoehu areas. “The organisers of the Battery Town Rally Bay of Plenty have been assessing the impacts of the continued Covid-19 travel restrictions and the recent elevation to alert level 3 for the greater Waikato,” said rally chairman David Loughlin last week. “The decision to end the NZRC effective immediately, while disappointing, is entirely understandable and has been made with the best intentions in the face of continued uncertainty. “However, we have the opportunity to reschedule the Battery Town Rally Bay of Plenty as a nonchampionship event. And by moving into November the organising team, local community and our fantastic sponsors have the best chance of delivering a high-quality event that benefits the local community and which competitors will enjoy. “There are no plans to amend the route or schedule of the event which will proceed as previously planned, but five weeks later on Sunday, November 21. “I would like to acknowledge the support of my organising committee, volunteer officials, sponsors, competitors and the Whakata¯ne, Rotorua and Western Bay of Plenty district councils,” Loughlin said. “With much of the later part of the rally season being affected by the lockdown, we are still confident of attracting a high-quality entry if it’s feasible to run in November.” The one-day rally will start and finish in Whakata¯ne with crews competing over gravel special stages on closed roads. Motorsport NZ protocols will allow the event to run under alert level 2 restrictions. However, some related activities such as a pre-event rally show promotion planned in downtown Whakata¯ne on November 20 and a prize-giving function will only go ahead if alert level 1 restrictions are in place at the time. While the date change means the rally won’t be the final round of the now complete 2021 NZRC, planning is already underway for the 2022 event to feature in the championship calendar. Running in November will allow organisers and competitors an additional chance to prepare for that NZRC event.