From Andrew Dunwoody [ 30/09/2002 ].
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Hyundai crews are ready to face the challenges of New Zealand next week. Last season, the Accent set a fastest stage time and became leader after leg one of the rally and the team are confident that they can build on that achievement with the latest version of the car this year. Juha Kankkunen is particularly looking forward to the rally commenting “New Zealand is a really nice place and the roads are quite like those in my home country, Finland."
Freddy Loix also has a liking of this event saying "Along with Sweden and Australia it has to be one of the best rallies in the World Rally Championship, we have a good start position here for the first leg of the rally so we should be able to maximise on that. But honestly, the car is going so well at the moment that there really isn’t any reason why we shouldn’t be able to get a good result here. We have the speed – we have proved that quite consistently now – and the feeling is fantastic so I have a good feeling for this rally.”
Armin Schwarz, although relatively inexperienced on the event having only competed here twice but taking points on both those occassions said "It is great to drive, a real drivers’ rally –it has twisty, flowing stages with lots of grip – unless it’s raining of course, then it can be slippery! But if conditions are like last year then we have a good road position to start so we will have to use that to our advantage. We will be using all new notes so that will require a lot of concentration through the stages on the recce but I really don’t feel we have anything to worry about. I have also just become a father for the first time and I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel. Maybe my daughter will give me that extra bit of luck!”
New Zealand also brings up the 'road sweeping' debate. With it being run in Springtime, road position is important due to the first cars 'sweeping' the relatively dry, gravely tracks clean for the cars behind, therefore giving the later runners more grip.
Sven Smeets, Fredy Loix's co-driver says "The roads typically have quite bad camber and it can change from one camber to another quite frequently. In Finland it is the same but only for a few corners – in New Zealand it is the case on 50-60% of the rally."
"Mechanically the rally is not so hard and it is really the drivers who make the difference. I like the rally – it’s fast and flowing with only a few jumps so you can keep a constant speed more easily. Although the rally is run in three different areas of the country there isn’t a big difference between them. The route north on leg two is a bit faster and it also has the 59km stage which I think is the longest special stage this year."
The rally starts on the 4th of October until the 6th.