Sunday, July 4, 2010

Rally Day

You know the road you travel daily is a "tough drive" when it is selected to be one of the roads used for an International Car Rally.  Not only that but the roads in our area are described by the rally officials as the "fastest gravel stages in the country".  

The International Rally of Whangarei is open to competitors contesting the 2010 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), 2010 FIA Pacific Cup, 2010 Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) or 2010 Stilo Top Half Series, and has attracted a 67-strong field for the two-day rally.

 Even those like me who have no interest whatsoever is car racing become excited about the rally passing our front gates and plan for the best vantage points.  When I printed  out the route the rally will take (and even a list of the drivers, so we'd know which country they were from as they went past) I was surprised that the corner on which the farm sits is prominently marked as one of the "Prime Spectator Viewing" spots.  They even sell tickets to these prime viewing spots! 

In exchange for volunteers’ time to help run the event, which uses 285 kilometres of gravel roads in the Kaipara and Whangarei districts, the rally returns a share of the revenue from sales of spectator tickets to the community groups.  A share of the revenue  from ticket sales is also returned to the community.

In the Whangarei area they aim is to raise $3 million in three years to build an oncology unit in Whangarei so Northland’s cancer suffers can be treated closer to home.  So the rally is a significant event in this area.

The road was closed on Thursday for the recconnaisance stage.  But I managed to leave home before that happened (the organisers gave us plenty of warnings about the road closures), then stayed in town and went to the movies with Chris.  We went to the Whangarei Film Club to see "This Way of Life",  a truly lovely NZ documentary.

Friday night my daughter and son-in-law arrived with my grand-daughter Jami who was keen to see the rally action with her cousins.

Saturday morning we were out at the road by 8.10 am.  I now know the road closed at 8.10 am but the rally didn't start till 10 am.  But I didn't know that then! It was still a bit foggy that early anyway and we could barely see down the road to the bridge.  But it was very pleasant waiting and watching the fog lift.  Various safety vehicles went flying by, all travelling much faster than we are accustomed to seeing, some with sirens blaring and lights flashing.  One of these stopped and told us we would have to stand back behind the security tape they had put up earlier across my driveway.  So we moved into the paddock behind the fence.

Justine clowned for our entertainment and sang us a song or two.

I had plenty of time to set up my camera (fancy stuff, huh?) - and go back to the house for more coffee.

Time also for Jami to walk up the hill to meet Georgia and walk back with her.  Love the tandem footprints in the wet grass!

Bill went back to the house to fetch us some chairs - and we waited some more.
Finally we heard the first car, we could hear them coming for quite a distance as they came down out of the hills, around the corner (where one spun out) down a little hill, over our little white bridge then up through the corners towards us.  The first car was definitely red  and I think this may have been the second or third but it was the first I managed to get in the frame.  I took lots of photos of empty road!  And sometimes when they got airborne (on the corner this car is approaching) I got too excited and forgot to take a photo at all!

I fluked a couple up close but it hardly looks to be moving - and believe you me it!  Before we knew it they were disappearing up the road into the distance.

The cars passed through twice, once in the morning and again at 2.30 pm.  The road had been cleared of loose metal by then and the cars appeared to me much faster.  We had decided to move positions to down the back of my house for the afternoon viewing and I thought this would be a good spot but although it gave us a view of the cars flashing past as they approached the corner from the right (about 20 metres back past where the car is in the next photo) it was pretty tame so we returned to the paddock out front.  Crew from APRCTV had set up there and declared it was as good a place as any, and they film rallies in all the participating countries. 

I feared for this guy's life a few times but he said you get used to it.  Look where he is, right on the edge of the road and you can see the marks on the edge of the road where a can went a bit astray in the morning session.  I told him that but he seemed unconcerned. 

APRCTV camera crew man and his serious equipment.  The photo at the top is thanks to one of the crew.

So, yes, we really enjoyed seeing the rally go past our gate for the first time and hope they come back this way again next year.  Maybe they will find better (read worse) roads!  The girls were over it by the end but Georgia perked up after she was allowed to take photos with my camera.

And thanks to her I have what I think is the Shot of the Day.  The sweeper car went through signifying the last of the rally cars had gone by and the road was again open.  And hot on his tail were the avid followers.  Imagine seeing four cars at one time from my front deck!!  Another first!


  1. Well, Pauline, as a lover of motor sport I thought this post was great. The whole experience would have been right up my street.

  2. And wasn't I lucky that it was right up my road? Gosh, I've just noticed my photos are all over the place.

  3. That must have been quite a day! put a new spin on 'home grown fun'!


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