The Motu is back – Worlds most challenging stage returns

BrianGreen_RallyRotorua2002_Copyright GEOFF RIDDER

Brian Green tackles one of the Motu’s numerous ford crossing during the 2002 International Rally Rotorua. Photo: Geoff Ridder

The Motu Road gorge, widely regarded in World Rallying as the toughest most challenging piece of road is making a comeback. The Motu will be the feature of Rally Gisborne to be held on 27th June, round four of the 2015 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship.

The Gisborne event, run by Rally New Zealand will use the road for one complete stage, giving New Zealand’s best rally drivers a chance to master the Motu. The Motu is 47 kilometres of winding, narrow, twisty and challenging road that snakes its way from the coast at Opotiki inland through the ranges to finish high in the hills at the small township of Motu.

It gained its fearsome reputation during the 1990’s when it was an annual feature of the World Championship Rally New Zealand event, nearly every year this infamous piece of road deciding the outcome of the event. The world’s best drivers feared its awesome reputation while Scotland’s Colin McRae proved to be the master of the Motu, setting the stage record three years running on his way to victory.

The record for the Motu, set by Scot Colin McRae in a Subaru in 1994, was 37m 21s and McRae made the Motu his own. Not used in a National Championship round since 2006 or the World Championship since 1996, The Motu will again be the rally maker for the best drivers and teams in the New Zealand Rally Championship.

Steve Foster, Clerk of Course for the Gisborne event commented “We wanted to provide a challenge for the crews, and I think we have it. Not only do we have the Motu, but the classic Whakarau and Rakuroa stages will be back also. These are stage that the drivers rave about, from the challenge of the Motu to the absolute pleasure of the faster and flowing Whakarau stage.”

“We are really excited to run these iconic stages in National competition again. The event is in the final planning stages, but we can guarantee a challenging event for competitors.”

Rally Gisborne will take place on Saturday 27th June and is the fourth round of the six round Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship. A high quality championship field is expected to challenge the Motu in all classes from the modern 4WD & 2WD cars, to the spectacular classic cars from the BNT Historic Category, and the Gull Rally Challenge contenders. Leading entries are expected to include current Championship leader, Nelson Subaru driver Ben Hunt, Alex Kelsey from Coromandel in his wild selfbuilt Mad Creation 2 rallycar, and Dunedin’s Emma Gilmour in her Suzuki Swift.


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The New Zealand Rally Championship is this country’s premier nationwide rally championship. It attracts New Zealand’s best drivers to compete in numerous categories for the prestigious MotorSport New Zealand-sanctioned rally championship titles. In 2024, there are six NZRC rounds, each with a unique character reflecting the diverse regions – from Northland to Invercargill