• Kennedy Park Resort Rally Hawke’s Bay brings New Zealand's top drivers to the region

Kennedy Park Resort Rally Hawke’s Bay brings New Zealand's top drivers to the region

New Zealand’s top rally drivers are revving their engines in anticipation of Kennedy Park Resort Rally Hawke’s Bay set to begin this afternoon. 

It is the fourth round of the NZ Rally Championship and will see up to 70 top drivers and several hundred crew, volunteers and officials take part, including former World Rally Championship competitor Hayden Paddon (Cromwell), Ben Hunt (Auckland), Matt Summerfield (Rangiora) and Hawke’s Bay’s own Grant Blackberry. 

All the drivers will be at the ceremonial start, from 4.30pm to 7pm today (July 23) at the Soundshell on Marine Parade. The competition cars will be on display, with the drivers participating in an autograph session and then a ceremonial drive over the start ramp.

Rally HB features six stages and 156km worth of scenic (and closed) gravel roads between Napier and Wairoa. The first stage, at Waitara, kicks off at 7.40am, the final on the iconic Waipunga Road, from 3.45pm.

The event is hosted by the Hawke’s Bay Car Club, which runs many motorsport events throughout the year. Rally Hawke’s Bay Committee Chairman Steve Foster is excited to welcome drivers back to Hawke’s Bay for one of the region’s most popular motor racing events. 

“Having this event as part of the national championship is attracting the top drivers from around the country to enjoy our region’s stunning scenery and roads.  There are a wide range of cars from the latest AP4 purpose-built New Zealand rally cars, to classic RX7’s, Toyota Starlets and Ford Escorts. It will be fantastic for spectators.”

Kennedy Park Resort is the naming sponsor for the local event, which was last run as a national championship round in 2011.

While the Napier City Council-owned facility supports a number of local and national events, this is the first time it has been involved with the rally, says Manager Hayden Henderson.

“This is a unique opportunity to connect with the sport and a new national audience. Plus it’s a wonderful chance to showcase both our business and the Bay to competitors and supporters.”

The organisers welcome spectators, and remind them to travel safely to and from the ceremonial start and competition stages, and be mindful of officials’ instructions. 

Further details, including a map and stage start times, are available from hbcarclub.co.nz