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Rally New Zealand preview
Jun 18, 2012

The PROTON Motorsports team will look to further its dominance of the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship when it arrives in Auckland for Rally New Zealand next week.

The fourth round of the 2012 SWRC starts from Auckland on Thursday June 21 and includes 22 stages run wholly on New Zealand’s North Island.

The Malaysian manufacturer collected a three-minute victory on Rally Sweden, its last SWRC outing, while lead driver P-G Andersson had been seven minutes ahead on the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally before he was forced out on the final day in the French Alps.

The PROTON Motorsports team elected the miss the third round of the Super 2000 WRC in Portugal, due to a clash with its FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship commitments, where PROTON is defending its drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles. Andersson and his Scottish team-mate Alister McRae will drive the two factory Satria-Neo S2000s on the roads north and south of the Rally New Zealand’s Auckland base.

Rally New Zealand is always one of the most eagerly anticipated events on the calendar with the drivers enjoying the heavily cambered North Island roads, while the sport-mad locals provide a great welcome to the regulars of world rallying. And the route for next week’s fourth round (from eight) of the SWRC will be a classic, with plenty of new stages and the rally’s longest competitive distance since the 1995 event.

After a city centre start from Auckland, the event heads south to the beautiful coastal town of Raglan, around which day one is centred. And the drivers themselves capture the best view of the Tasman coast as they hustle their rally cars along what has to be one of the most picturesque – and therefore most photographed – stretches of road in the series, the Whaanga Coast stage.

Day two takes the crews in the opposite direction as they head north to Whangarei for a second challenging leg, before Sunday’s final loop of stages based around Auckland – including two runs through the Auckland Domain test, which will thrill the thousands of fans turning out to watch the action at the heart of the nation’s largest centre of population.

Alister McRae said:
“Rally New Zealand is always a favourite among the drivers. The fast and flowing nature of the roads encourage you to attack and push harder. The roads work with you on this event, you can use the camber of the road to pull you through the corner – at times you can be a gear higher than you would be on the same sort of bend without the camber. It’s great that P-G and I have been down here already once this year, that’s given us a good chance to dial ourselves into the specific nature of these stages.”

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