2022 Rally New Zealand form guide

Who's on form and who's in need of a strong result on Rally New Zealand's return to the calendar?


After trips to Belgium’s asphalt lanes and Greece’s rough and rocky roads, it’s back to fast gravel on the World Rally Championship tour in New Zealand this week.

Featuring heavily cambered and flowing roads, New Zealand has rally stages unlike anywhere else in the world. And with only four drivers in the Rally1 field possessing prior experience here, the form book is somewhat up in the air.

Who’s on a roll heading to the southern hemisphere and who’s form has been going south lately? Our form guide has the answers.

Sebastien Ogier

#1 Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 4th, 51st, 2nd
Best New Zealand result: 2nd (2010)

Ogier’s part-time season is yet to yield a victory and he’ll be hoping to change that, especially after a puncture stopped him from challenging for victory the last time he set foot in a GR Yaris back in June.

Ultimately the pace that delivered two back-to-back titles with Toyota is still fundamentally there – he battled Sébastien Loeb tooth-and-nail for victory in Monte Carlo and he was on Kalle Rovanperä’s rally-winning pace in Kenya.

His one and only trip to New Zealand very nearly ended with a maiden WRC career win, only for a collision with a bank four corners from the finish line of the final stage to rob him of the top spot. Can he go the extra four corners without an error 12 years on?

#2 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Hyundai i20 N Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 4th, DNF, 13th
Best New Zealand result: N/A

After a string of disappointments that culminated in a soul-destroying crash on the very first corner of forest stage in Finland, Solberg’s form has at last taken an upward turn.


A career-best fourth place in Belgium has provided a reassuring platform from which Solberg can continue to build his momentum though, unlike Ypres, he’s never done New Zealand in any sort of rally car before.

Something – whether a driver mistake or a car problem – has gotten in Solberg’s way everywhere this season except Belgium. A second clean rally in a row, whatever the finishing position ends up being, must be the target.

#8 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 2nd, 1st, 1st
Best New Zealand result: DNF (2012)

There is one undisputed on-form driver in the WRC right now and it’s not the title leader. Tänak has been the star of the second half of the season, scoring two wins and two podiums and ensuring Kalle Rovanperä would still need to do the bare minimum to wrap up the title.

2022ACROPOLIS _FD_ 280

In Finland he was imperious, in Belgium he was lucky that his team-mate chucked it off the road. And, after team orders went against him in Greece, Tänak will be enormously fired up and ready to prove a point.

Hopefully it doesn’t end up like his previous trip to New Zealand, though. In 2012 he was in one of the works Ford Fiesta WRCs and crashed at high speed, simply caught out by some loose gravel and running wide with severe consequences.

With his chances of catching Rovanperä in the title race very slim but not yet gone entirely, it’ll be interesting to see how readily he adopts a ‘win it or bin it’ mindset.

#11 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 1st, 20th, 5th
Best New Zealand result: 5th (2012)

When Neuville crashed out of Ypres Rally earlier this year, he handed victory to Tänak in the process. But when Tänak crashed out of Rally New Zealand a decade earlier, it was Neuville that was handed fifth place instead.


As the last round demonstrated, though, there will be no gift-giving between the two Hyundai team-mates in New Zealand. While Neuville won in Greece it wasn’t without plenty of intra-team complications, with Tänak left unsupported in his quest to put pressure on Rovanperä in the drivers’ title race.

Neuville’s results on fast gravel this year – namely the Estonia-Finland doubleheader – have not been stellar. Fourth and fifth place finishes there – in both cases around two minutes behind his flying team-mate – gives reason to question whether he’ll be on the podium this weekend.

#18 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 6th, 5th, 6th
Best New Zealand result: N/A

Katsuta stands alone as the only driver to finish in the top 10 at every rally this season. Can he keep the streak going?

Takamoto Katsuta

Pace-wise it’s harder to tell if he can crack the top five on merit here. It helps that so few of his rivals have any experience here either, though his performance on the Acropolis was worrying for how far off his own team-mates’ pace he spent much of the rally.

All four GR Yaris Rally1s looked out of sorts in Greece – but Katsuta appeared the least able to deal with the difficult hand he’d been dealt. If Toyota hasn’t resolved its Greek tragedy, Katsuta may struggle to write himself a happy ending in New Zealand.

#33 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: DNF, 2nd, 4th
Best New Zealand result: N/A

New Zealand rally weekend marks precisely a calendar year since Evans’ last WRC win, which was on the unusually late-in-the-season Rally Finland.

Form-wise his season has begun to dip again slightly, having started disastrously with two DNFs in a row.

Elfyn Evans

Ypres could have been his rally were it not for a 10s penalty – though in truth both he and Tänak were fortunate that Neuville slipped up. More concerning was Finland, where he was the slowest of the main-team Toyotas. And while he valiantly pressed on in Greece to try and salvage a podium for his employer, the turbo went pop.

Rovanperä’s recent wobbles and Ogier being out of the car on events for three months means this is the time to strike while the iron is hot.

#37 Lorenzo Bertelli/Lorenzo Granai (Ford Puma Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 11th, 51st, 13th
Best New Zealand result: DNF (2012)

Bertelli had initially been meant to make his Rally1 debut in Sweden until Milan Fashion Week got in the way (he’s heir to the Prada fashion empire and its head of marketing).


But such is Bertelli’s passion for his hobby that he’s willing to go to the other side of the world – and, quite probably, the most expensive round of the season for a privateer driver – to finally sample the Puma Rally1 in competition.

It’s been 10 years since he rallied in New Zealand – and this isn’t the only return after a long absence. Lorenzo Granai is back alongside him in the navigator’s seat for the first time since 2015, as regular co-driver Simone Scattolin was injured in a crash on Barum Rally Zlín last month.

Last time they were here, Bertelli’s Group N Subaru ended up overshooting a junction and crashing into a ditch. He’ll be hoping to finish all the stages in one piece this time.

#42 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Ford Puma Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 5th, 63rd, 32nd
Best New Zealand result: N/A

A horrendous run of form was somewhat placated by a fifth place for Breen in Greece. Estonia, Finland and Belgium, all rallies he’d scored podiums on with Hyundai the season before, had been touted as his likely purple patch of the year – instead, he retired three times.


A puncture on Friday in Greece meant his rally never truly got out of the blocks but his pace on the Sunday was promising – as was the overall pace of the Puma in Loeb and Pierre-Louis Loubet’s hands on the Friday.

That fifth place, even if not a stellar result on paper, will hopefully provide some much-needed relief from what must have felt like a never-ending streak of misery and a chance to kick on and challenge for the podium places again. Or a first WRC win, if you believe DirtFish’s resident clairvoyant Colin Clark.

#44 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (Ford Puma Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 29th, 19th, 7th
Best New Zealand result: N/A

While not as accident strewn as Breen’s nightmare mid-season, Greensmith’s mid-year run of form hasn’t been much to write home about either.


He had at least climbed up to sixth overall on the Acropolis before his power unit conked out, though was easily overshadowed by the rest of his team-mates on Friday. He’d also been running sixth in Belgium until a trip off-road ruined the left-rear of his Puma.

He still hasn’t registered a top five finish since Sweden in February. But perhaps with a slightly thinner field in New Zealand, this could be a chance to get some of his early season form back?

#69 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 15th, 62nd, 2nd
Best Finland result: N/A


Once upon a time Rovanperä was the runaway freight train that simply couldn’t be stopped from escaping further and further up the road. But the last few months have been a reality check – he’s not the in-form driver in the WRC anymore.

His Belgium crash was written off as one of those things – all drivers make a mistake on their way to the world championship crown. But he was beaten in a straight fight by Tänak on home turf and while a podium would have been a bit of a stretch in Greece, he was also responsible for his own misery by hitting a tree.

If the Rovanperä of the early season returned and put in an absolute barnstormer of a performance, taking both the overall win and the fastest powerstage time, he’d be guaranteed the title there and then. Will he go for it? Probably not. Right now, he needs to get himself back on the podium and perhaps remind Tänak that the Hyundai driver’s hopes of a last-minute title miracle are a mere fantasy.