The World Rally Championship is coming to Raglan

After a decade long wait, the World Rally Championship is not only heading back to New Zealand, but the event has plans to hold a round of the race on the iconic Whaanga Coast stage in September.

Rally New Zealand, which will be part of the FIA World Rally Championship for the 32nd time, announced that the main event, to be held from 29 September to 2 October 2022, will be located on Auckland’s waterfront with its fan zone the REPCO Rally Village and service park utilising Silo Park and the bases on Wynyard Point in Wynyard Quarter.

Rally NZ are putting forward a proposal for the Raglan stage of the event to be centred around the Raglan township similar to the World Rally events that were held in town over a decade ago. With this being a grand international event with massive media exposure, Raglan will be live streamed worldwide. 

Spokespeople from the WRC and Rally NZ expect, “Estimated visitors to Raglan streets on Friday 30 Sept of 3,000-4,000 pax,” with an, “average spend by those visitors of $30,” which could result in a $90,000 – $120,000 opportunity for Raglan.

A global television audience of over 80 million will watch on as the world’s best drivers navigate perhaps the most recognisable New Zealand rally stage among worldwide rally fans – Whaanga Coast.

The world’s best rally drivers will be returning to race on what many consider the best rallying roads in the world. They are led by some emerging and exciting drivers who will face off against our best including Hayden Paddon and Emma Gilmour. Huge intrigue remains over whether French rally legends Sebastien Loeb and Sebastien Ogier, who have won 17 world championships between them and committed to a part-time schedule in 2022, will make the trip.

“The event has been five years in the making and there has been an extraordinary amount of hard work and discussions to bring the WRC back to New Zealand,” said Michael Goldstein, CEO of Rally New Zealand.

Perhaps the most recognisable New Zealand rally stage among worldwide rally fans, Whaanga Coast is often used in promotional videos and still photography. 

The 29km-long stage has been run in both directions and features a combination of fast open farmland as well as tight, twisty and cambered coastal road just south of the Raglan township.

More often used running south to north, the stage starts with some beautiful, wide gravel road over farmland. After passing the iconic spectator junction, it then drops to the coast below, providing an element of danger, with big drops off to one side.

The stage finishes with a stretch of tight corners, on narrow roads through bush.

The length of the stage has proven to be a test for both driver and machinery – tyres especially.

It provided a stunning finish to the 2010 WRC Rally New Zealand when Jari-Matti Latvala was able to snatch victory from a four-way battle after a recovering Sebastien Loeb had problems, Petter Solberg cleaned out a power pole and Sebastien Ogier spun in the tight section only a handful of corners from home.

Back in 2020 local residents opposed an application by World Rally NZ to temporarily close a number of roads in the Raglan region for a partial day on 1 September for reconnaissance and a full day on 4 September for the live race. 

Prior to this application, in February of 2020, due to growing concern at the possibility of another rally, 42 residents and ratepayers of Whaanga, Ruapuke and Te Tuhi Roads signed a letter addressed to the Mayor and Councillors of Waikato District Council objecting to the road closure with clear reasons for their objection stated as:

The use of this road by the rally of New Zealand and other motor vehicle races causes disruption to business, significant damage to the road that takes months to repair, danger to stock, costs to residents in tyres, wheel alignments and other car repairs, damage to the environment, negative impact of helicopters and drones and significant safety concerns.

On Wednesday 27th April, 7pm at the Raglan Town Hall – The Sporting Director of Rally NZ held a presentation on a proposal to hold a round of the World Rally Championship scheduled to be run from Raglan and on the Whaanga Coast on Fri 30 Sept 2022. The presentation included an outline of the planned activities for that day in the Whaingaroa/Raglan Ward.