I was going to head to the Waikato chasing WRC Rally New Zealand but spending most of yesterday sorting out some other travel meant today was the only option. At best I would only see one or two stages and the Super Special at Hamilton. It’s a long haul and the “supers” are usually a bit boring, more publicity events than real rallying, so decided to stick to the TV coverage.
Well, wasn’t that a bad decision! It’s totally amazing that after 3 days of full on competition Marcus Gronholm and Sebastien Loeb entered the Super separated by just 0.7 seconds. At the end of that Gronholm emerged the victor just 0.3 seconds ahead!
Rally New Zealand is the best, biggest, and most important international sporting event held in this country in terms of local spectator and international media interest. Yes, I’d include the America’s Cup and Rugby World Cup because Rally New Zealand is annual, soon every two years, event.
So why does it struggle for sponsorship? Does the myopic “Rugby is the only sport” mentality extend to the boardroom of New Zealand’s major companies? In the commentary they mentioned it requires about three or four million to run and relies on three thousand, yes thousand, volunteers to stage. If the America’s Cup is worth thirty million, surely four million for the rally is a bargain.
Gronholm's tidy negotiation of the final 3.14km super special stage – the 18th and final stage of the 353km, three-day event through the Waikato – also gave the Finn an unprecedented fifth victory on New Zealand gravel…