The Otago Rally has a long and successful history
The DriveSouth RallyFest includes three strong fields of competitors.
The Winmax Brakes Otago Rally is the first round of the 2024 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship. This component of the event features New Zealand’s leading competitors in modern, state-of-the-art 4WD turbo rally cars, including the exciting AP4 cars.
The International Classic Otago Rally is for pre-1987, 2WD cars. This event has grown in leaps and bounds since its inception in 1997, to the point where it is the leading event of its type in the Southern Hemisphere.
The ‘Leviathan Hotel Allcomers Rally of Otago’ is a separate event targeted at locals who have cars that are not eligible for either the Classic or NZRC events.
The Otago Rally has run annually since 1976, and has been part of the NZ Rally Championship since 1993 – the longest of any of the present championship rounds. It is enthusiastically supported by the City of Dunedin.
The 2023 event was won by NZ’s own WRC star, Hayden Paddon in a Hyundai i20 Rally2. The Classic Rally was won by former WRC event winner, Mikko Hirvonen, in a Ford Escort RS1800.
Hayden Paddon is a multiple Otago Rally winner and rates it as his favourite event.
The event is round one of the 2024 New Zealand Rally Championship and this championship is recognised as one of strongest worldwide. There will several former champions competing, including NZ’s most successful driver, Hayden Paddon in a Hyundai AP4. The AP4 class is an FIA approved class for the Asia-Pacific region and produces cars that are equivalent to the FIA Rally2 class in both performance and appearance.
In recent years the Otago Classic Rally has attracted former World Rally Champions Miki Biasion (Italy), Ari Vatanen, Juha Kankkunen and Hannu Mikkola from Finland, Bjorn Waldegard from Sweden, and France’s Didier Auriol, as well as international stars Mads Ostberg, Marko Martin, Pasi Hagstrom, Piero Liatti, Jimmy and Alister McRae and Alex Fiorio. A strong contingent of Australians have also been regulars at the event over the past 10 years, including Ross Dunkerton, Greg Carr, Geoff Portman and Neal Bates.
Winners of the Classic Rally have been a mix of international and Kiwi drivers, the internationals being challenged by many fast Kiwis with their previous experience of the event, and the locals equally challenged by the shear class of the internationals.
The 2024 event, to be held from 12 April - 14 April 2024, will begin with a ceremonial rally start in Dunedin’s centre, The Octagon, on Friday night.
The gravel special stages will be held on Saturday and Sunday, with the Rally of Otago’s traditional mix of challenging stages awaiting competitors.
All competitors, including those in the Classic Rally, have the option of purchasing organiser provided ‘computer generated’ pacenotes (using the Swedish “Jemba” system). For those that purchase the notes a two pass convoy reconnaissance is available.
For full details on the 2024 Otago Rally, including stage and spectator maps, see our RALLY INFO page.
New Zealand has a special place in my heart – I’ll never forget the country of my honeymoon! (I did the New Zealand Rally at the same time…). The Otago Rally was the missing link in my New Zealand rallying experience and my long-awaited first visit to the South Island did not disappoint me!
The rally lived up to our high expectations, well organised, beautiful 1000 Lakes stages without jumps and lakes, but with many more sheep! In fact I enjoyed the last stage so much that I “kissed” a gatepost and that was the end of it. What a disappointment! Obviously I’ll have to come back to put it right!Ari Vatanen, Finland
To ask me to write about the Rally Otago, about New Zealand and Otago region is like a wedding invitation, typical Italian expression!! The Otago Rally is very well and professionally organised, the special stages magnificent.
The public very neat, warm and knowledgeable. It’s amazing to participate in a rally and have the fortune, during transfers, to rejoice and take advantage of one of the most beautiful natural sights in the world! I am never tire of coming to New Zealand hoping, one day, to stop and never go away.Fabrizia Pons, Italy
The Otago Rally in my memory goes down as one of the best rallies, not just because I won the Historics in 2005, but because the South Island reminds me so much of parts of Scotland, the difference being that you have much better roads to rally on and the organisers and the people of the South Island make you so welcome.
The organising team obviously work very hard and the outcome is a very well run event. The rally itself, although only a day and a half long, covers something like 250km of some of the best special stages in the world. It is an event which is all go from the start and there’s not much let up for a day and a half.Jimmy McRae, Scotland