Ateed behind plans to bring back WRC Rally New Zealand

Hayden Paddon would help draw the crowds to a WRC event in New Zealand.
GEOFF RIDDER/SUPPLIEDHayden Paddon would help draw the crowds to a WRC event in New Zealand.

Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (Ateed), an arm of Auckland Council, is backing a bid to bring the rally to the country for the first time since 2012 as a WRC event, believing it will help show off Auckland to the world.

“We’ve definitely been having a look at that,” Ateed’s head of major events Stuart Turner said. 

Sebastien Loeb from France won the WRC Rally New Zealand last time it was held, in 2012.
GETTY IMAGESSebastien Loeb from France won the WRC Rally New Zealand last time it was held, in 2012.

“Firstly because there is a great interest in the rally and Kiwis and motorsport go well together.

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“But also, it’s a real showcasing event. It helps you showcase the city and the countryside of the whole of the Auckland region.

“There is a bit of work happening on that and we would definitely be keen to get it back.”

Last year the New Zealand Rally was held as a non WRC event and won by Hayden Paddon.

The WRC’s Australian rally takes place next weekend around Coffs Harbour and is also on the calendar for next year.

Motorsport’s governing body, FIA, is pushing for the WRC to be less Eurocentric, which  helps the cause of countries like New Zealand, Kenya and Japan and Turner says they could know early 2019 if they’ve been successful.

“It could be a few years away, but in terms of an announcement, if it’s going to happen that will come within the next six months to a year,” he said.

“But it could be for a few years down the line. Usually with these sports things, they work on a two to three year window or sometimes even longer than that.”

Ateed has become one of the major figures on the New Zealand sporting landscape. It’s behind the bids to bring the women’s Rugby World Cup and women’s Cricket World Cup to New Zealand in 2021 and the Netball World Cup in 2023.

It’s a backer of the Auckland round of the Supercars series and the ASB Classic.

It was also involved in the Auckland Nines and the recent rugby league test between Tonga and Australia at Mt Smart Stadium.

“We’re now building up towards the America’s Cup in 2021,” Turner said.

“For these mega events, you can’t do them every year. You need time to plan and financially it would be difficult to do them every year.

“So sometimes there is a period in between where there is consolidation.”

Last weekend’s Supercars round in Pukekohe was a success, with 110,678 attending over the three days, up by 5000 from 2017.

Next year though, the Auckland round will move to September, when the weather might not be good.

“If you have a look at the rainfall figures across September and November, there’s not a lot of difference,” Turner said. 

“There are less daylight hours and the temperature is likely to be lower for the fans, so from that point of view it’s not ideal.

“But particularly for next year, we’re looking at the fact that the Rugby World Cup final would have been the corresponding weekend.

“Also, because they’re bringing the cars over by sea rather than air, we’ll have the trucks here and they’re a couple of big pluses for us as we’ll be able to do a truck parade.”

Meanwhile, Turner feels the ASB Classic is as good as it can get as a tournament, but believes there is an area where it can improve.

“It’s a really well run event, but I guess the question for us is about where the growth in it is,” he said.

“Because it isn’t probably in the standard of players coming, or the audience that goes along, because it sells out pretty well.

“So then you look at the broadcast market and is there a different market?

“Some of it is about trying to get it distributed through different channels,” he added. 

“It’s a lot for the event promoter to do, for Karl [Budge] to look after himself, but that’s something we’re really keen to talk to him about.”

Sunday Star Times