Rugby clash costs NZ 2011 WRC date

Rally New Zealand was forced to turn down a September date in next year's World Rally Championship due to a clash with the Rugby World Cup, which is taking place in New Zealand at the same time

Rugby clash costs NZ 2011 WRC date

Chris Carr, chairman of the Rally New Zealand board, confirmed that WRC promoter North One Sport had offered the Auckland-based event a berth. Officials in the FIA have confirmed, however, that when New Zealand couldn't make it work, the place was handed to Rally Australia.

"We were allocated a date for 2011, but it was right in the period of the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand, so that was not feasible," said Carr. "The WRC calendar is heavily influenced by the logistics of moving all of the teams and equipment around the world, and a significant portion of the equipment is shipped by sea.

"The shipping schedules dictated an event in September or October 2011. We had no desire to conflict with the Rugby World Cup and had to decline those dates."

Rally New Zealand is one of two reserve events for 2011, along with Poland, but Carr admitted he still could not see the North Island featuring in the WRC next season.

"The logistics reduce the likelihood of that occurring," said Carr. "Of course, it's disappointing, but all is not lost and our efforts will now be applied to ensuring a workable date on the 2012 WRC calendar.

"In the meantime, we celebrate the 40th running of Rally New Zealand in 2010 by making sure this year's event is run to the highest possible standard to ensure that we retain our place in 2012.

"Our event is highly-regarded, there's no doubt. It has considerable value to New Zealand in terms of international profile and we continue to talk with all parties as we work towards a suitable date in 2012.

"Now, let's turn our attention to next week's Rally New Zealand and celebrate the wonderful heritage of rallying created by the many hundreds of competitors and thousands of volunteers and fans who have helped make this a truly world-class event over the past 40 years."

This year's Rally New Zealand starts in Auckland next Thursday evening.

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