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pcwrc2006 Rd.8 Propecia Rally New Zealand
Production Car World Rally Championship Rd.8
17 to 19 November 2006
Title Goes Down to the Wire in New Zealand

Rally Preview
Event News
15 November 2006

Copyright © STI 
It seems hard to believe that another season of the Production Car World Rally Championship is set to draw to a close this coming weekend as Rally New Zealand gets underway in a new location, the town of Hamilton, 120 kilometres south from Auckland.

One of the most popular and scenic rallies on the entire calendar, Rally New Zealand is always a major draw for fans, with the stages typically packed on all three days of the event.

This year the Service Park and Rally Headquarters are in the Mystery Creek Events Centre, as is the Super Special spectator stage, being run on Friday and Saturday nights.

Though centered in a completely different location, this year's rally still shares four of the seventeen special stages used in 2005. Favourites among rally fans and drivers, Saturday's Te Akau South and North tests are blindingly quick and very demanding. Sunday's stages feature the postcard-like Whaanga Coast test, as well as Raglan.

With the event taking place at the opposite side of the calendar to last year, different weather conditions can be expected. Long stages in the cooler spring temperatures mean that tyre choice will play a pivotal role this weekend as crews negotiate the high-speed gravel roads. It has been very wet and the weather seasonally very unpredictable so weather choice is a bit of a guess here.

Pre-event test
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The Monday prior to PCWRC events is the traditional day for competitors to get acclimatized to the local conditions with the Pre-event test. All eight rounds of the PCWRC feature this one-day event, and it has become a hugely popular with the IMPREZA crews.

Most of the SUBARU runners contesting PCWRC in Rally New Zealand took part, with everybody reporting progress and no dramas throughout the day. Championship leader Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah was happy both with his progress and with the pace of his spec C IMPREZA on the roads north of Hamilton. Toshi Arai attended the test after lunch, as did Round 7 winner Jari-Matti Latvala. Aki Teiskonen will take the start on Friday, though damage to his car means he won't be finishing the event this year.

Former New Zealand Rally Champion Chris West was also at the test. He had a few things to resolve on the car early on, which he succeeded in doing. However, Richard Mason, Newly crowned as NZ champion, was unable to attend as his car was having a new engine fitted.

Sergei Uspenskiy, after taking his strongest result three weeks ago in Australia, is being replaced with Mr. Drosinskiy for this, the final round of the year.

George Donaldson - STI Group N Project General Manager:
"Our test featured ideal test roads for setting up a rally car for the New Zealand Rally. Whilst none of the roads are identical to any of the stages specifically, the combination of camber, speed sections and very twisty sections is the ideal set up for a car to give the required performance on this rally. This has been used by the world champions for many, many years."

Copyright © STI 
"Basically, I've never seen a test that was so busy with car set-up changes. All the drivers were testing very intently, almost as if it was the first event of the season, like they all had a chance to win the championship. Possibly the two most relaxed drivers were in fact the two guys who could win the championship, Nasser Saleh Al Attiyah and Fumio Nutahara."

"I believe that we'll have drivers attacking this event in a very determined manner. It seems to me that 5 of 6 crews believe they can win PCWRC honours here in New Zealand. That's always a bit scary as it means we've got a whole load of drivers all thinking they're going to win, it usually ends up with a lot of retirements on the first day. But we hope that doesn't happen; I'll certainly be counselling the drivers accordingly.

"At the end of the day, all the SUBARU drivers reported a very productive day's testing. We wish them all the best of luck on this event and by Friday lunchtime we'll have an idea of our teams' performances. Hopefully this will be a top performance as desired, and that they carry that through to Sunday lunchtime."

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