Otago Rally returns to traditions for 2023
Route details for the 2023 edition of the Otago Rally have emerged, with high hopes that the popular rally will be back to its pre-COVID heights.
The rally will once again be the opening round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, as well as a qualifying round of the Asia-Pacific series.
As usual, the rally will contain four events in one: the Winmax national championship, the ENEOS Otago Classic Rally, a 4WD classic rally, and the Leviathan Hotel Allcomers Rally.
It’s the route, however, which competitors and spectators have been eagerly awaiting.
The rally will start with the traditional opening in Dunedin’s Octagon on Friday, March 31, before two days of competition that includes 15 stages over a massive 280 kilometres.
On Saturday, April 1, the rally will return to the fast and flowing stages north of Dunedin in the Oamaru region, with servicing to take place in Duntroon.
Eight stages will be held over the opening day, five of which are over 21km in length.
The rally returns to the iconic Dansey’s Pass stage in the afternoon, before the final gravel stage of the day over the Shag Valley Back Road, with its famous jump near the flying finish.
The day ends with the traditional tarmac stage around the streets of Dunedin, which returns after being cancelled due to COVID-19 in 2022.
As per tradition, Sunday heads south and is based around the service park on Lake Waihola, with a further seven stages, including some of the rally’s most famous.
Voted the country’s ninth best rally stage, Waipori Gorge gets the day underway, while crews also visit Whare Flat, Circle Hill and Taieri Beach.
A monster 28km stage through Berwick Forest will be run twice, which historically has a big influence on the outcome of the rally.
This runs before the iconic Kuri Bush finishes proceedings, and counts as the event’s Power Stage.
The Brighton Domain will again host the podium finish celebrations on Sunday afternoon, before the Dunedin Town Hall is packed on Sunday night for the post-event prizegiving function.
Outside the rally, there is a lot going on in Dunedin on the weekend of the event. This year the rally weekend coincides with Dunedin’s famous iD Fashion week. Made up of many events, this event is complete with the world’s longest runway at the Dunedin railway station on the Saturday night.
Rally competitors and fans are urged to book their accommodation early and be ready to enjoy a huge weekend in Dunedin.
Reconnaissance has also been a key topic of planning for next year’s Otago Rally, particularly after the lengthy recce period in 2022.
“Days will be shorter, and in particular it has been structured so there will be even shorter days for those only wanting to do one pass recce,” event spokesman, Roger Oakley, said.
“To achieve this, there is one particular compromise, and that is that the 29.9km Danseys Pass stage will only have one pass reconnaissance. To help compensate for this, a video for Dansey’s Pass will be made available prior to recce.”
All in all it’s shaping up to be another bumper Otago Rally in 2023, with a full field of competitors – both national and international – expected to line up at the Dunedin Octagon for the first rally of the season.
- The Otago Rally is grateful for the indispensable support of Dunedin City Council’s Premier Event funding