Special Stage Guide: VINZ Gold Rush Rally of Coromandel
Round five of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship driven by VINZ sees crews head for new territory with the VINZ Gold Rush Rally of Coromandel, with rallying returning to the peninsula for the first time in 30 years on Saturday August 23.New roads create an even playing field for all, and with a competitive distance of 133km, this event uses some iconic roads that will sort the men from the boys and will be sure to throw a few surprises in the mix.
The seaside township of Whitianga plays host to the event, and festivities kick off on Friday afternoon from 4pm with a rally show and driver signing session building up to the Ceremonial start on Blacksmiths Lane in the heart of Whitianga. A great close to see cars and crews up close.
The following morning commences at the events base and service park, The Mercury Bay Multi-Sports Park from 7am, a short five kilometre tour takes teams to stage one, Earnslaw. This road has been used as a local rallysprint in the past couple of years, the stage runs up Wade road which is the main forestry arterial road in the Earnslaw forest. As a consequence, this road is hard packed and wide. After starting with a steep hillclimb, the road becomes seriously fast and will be a short sharp wake-up call for the competitors where a strong start will be rewarded.
Stage two is one that Coromandel residents and holiday makers alike have always said would make a fantastic rally road, The 309. This road really has it all, wide open fast in most places, the road has a couple of tight, twisty sections, a definite uphill and downhill section to the stage and although the surface offers up good grip but has some slippery sections to keep competitors on their toes.
After returning to the Mercury Bay Multi-Sports Park for a 20 minute service, teams head inland to tackle the Tapu-Coroglen road, stage three. Although the stage starts out fast, this will likely be the slowest stage of the event and after 22km, expect a few tired drivers by the end. In fact our local expert, Richard Kelsey, suggests that this stage may remind a few of the Motu as it winds lock to lock and although the road offers a solid base and is unlikely to cut up with moisture, it is likely to be slippery in the shaded areas of which there are plenty as the road winds through the bush.
With that stage completed, crews have a nice scenic tour up the Coromandel coastline before the start of stage four, Kelsey’s Castle Rock. The stage starts up the top of a hill and offers magnificent views of both sides of the Coromandel Peninsula to those brave enough and the road runs near enough from one side of the peninsula to the other. Our local expert refers to this stage as the sting in the tail, with one particularly tricky section that sees a largely unused section of forestry road that offers up bigger chunks of gravel that could cause a puncture for the unwary, whilst also being apparent that this section of road receives very little traffic. The stage crosses a ford just before the acute intersection and spectator point where the stage joins up to the final two-thirds of what was stage two, the 309. Great specator viewing at the junction is accessible from the Coromandel township side of the 309 Road. The Waterworks is situated right at the junction, and is offering rallyfans free parking, cafe on-site and only $5 entry to the water park once you’ve enjoyed the rally action. For further details check out: http://thewaterworks.co.nz/
Crews then return to service, before repeating stages three and four as five and six in an identical loop.
Stage seven is a tarmac publicity stage around the Whitianga Waterways and is more about bringing the rally to the people of Whitianga. Although winning the event on this stage will be impossible, losing it is certainly a possibility. First car gets underway at 2.00pm, on Joan Gaskell Drive. Parking is available for a gold coin donation, access via the end of Whitby Avenue.
Stage eight sees teams return to the Earnslaw test that made up stage one, before returning to town for one last blast around the super special stage starting at 3.19pm. Upon completing the second pass of the super stage, cars will immediately enter parc ferme on Joan Gaskell Drive, before crossing the finish ramp and the podium celebrations which will commence at the conclusion of the spectator stage around 3.55pm.
Spectator informaiton including itinerary and map can be downloaded from the event website here: http://www.rallynz.org.nz/2014-goldrush-rally-of-coromandel
Spectators are reminded to follow the instructions of marshals and ensure they stand well clear of the road’s edge – inside the taped off viewing areas. Enjoy the rally.