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Rally action returns to the BOP

The action is planned for the weekend of October 17-18. Supplied photos.

Spectacular rally action on gravel roads will return to the Bay of Plenty region in mid-October with an event that will feature competition on some of New Zealand’s favourite special stages.

Rally Bay of Plenty 2020 is being organised by Motorsport BOP Inc. and will be based from Whakatane over the weekend of October 17-18.

Planning for the rally will see just over 120km of special stage competition on closed public roads including venues familiar to World Rally Championship competitors and spectators such as Stanley Rd, Manawahe Rd and Herepuru Rd.

The event begins with a Saturday afternoon rally car show and ceremonial start in downtown Whakatane.

From 7am Sunday the crews will tackle the nine special stages before the finish ceremony in Whakatane about 3.30pm.

Service parks - where the cars can be worked on by support crews - are located at the Matata rugby grounds and the Pukehina School.

Rally organisers say there are multiple motivations behind adding the rally to the 2020 calendar.

As well as enhancing the schedule of North Island rally events which has been impacted by COVID-19, Rally Bay of Plenty will bring an economic and community boost to the region that prior to COVID-19 restrictions had already seen its tourist and hospitality sectors significantly affected by the White Island volcanic eruption in December 2019.

The rally is welcomed as an important addition to the region’s events calendar.

"We are thrilled that Motorsport Bay of Plenty is returning to host their Bay of Plenty rally event in Whakatane, Matatā, and surrounding parts of our District," says Kim Fort, Events Co-ordinator, Whakatane District Council.

"The Sunday rally and other activities planned for the weekend are sure to create a buzz and delight all participants, which is just what the community needs after a challenging year."

The most recent rally to use some of these roads was the 2017 Rally New Zealand which was the final round of the NZRC while some of the roads were last rallied during the early 2000s on Top Half Series events run by the Whakatane Car Club.

The rally will cater for up to 80 crews ranging in experience from leading New Zealand Rally Championship competitors to newcomers contesting the Novice category which has a been a traditional element of Motorsport BOP events.

Route details including prime spectator viewing points will be announced in the lead-up to the rally.

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