New Zealand reveals long-term plan to get WRC back

Rally New Zealand CEO Michael Goldstein is pushing 'bloody hard' to secure the event's future

Sebastien Loeb – Action

DirtFish can reveal details of the multi-year funding plan which Rally New Zealand officials hope will offer a World Rally Championship lifeline following its omission from the 2021 calendar.

Event CEO Michael Goldstein told DirtFish there is government backing to run Rally New Zealand for three years on a long rotation strategy with Rally Australia – and he’s ready to push ‘bloody hard’ to see the WRC back in Auckland in 2022.

The understanding was of a single-season 2020 deal for Rally New Zealand. But that’s not the case, according to the man at the top of the organization.

“For 2022, we would need to re-discuss [funding] and have these discussions with our partners – there’s only so long people will hold an investment for,” said Goldstein. “Without certainty it’s very difficult for an event organizer. We were trying to have some certainty for eight to 10 years down in this part of the world by having a long rotation with Australia and that would have helped Australia and it would have helped us.

“And it would have helped a sponsor who looks at both countries together to make a longer-term commitment, it certainly would have helped governments. Without that certainty life is difficult for us and I believe life is difficult for Rally Australia too.

“I assume New South Wales is looking to invest in this event (Rally Australia) for multiple years, but do they have certainty they will have an event for multiple years? Because we’re going to push bloody hard for 2022 if we’re not in in 2021.”

Rotation between Australia and New Zealand is nothing new. It was attempted with overarching Repco sponsorship between 2009 and 2012 – but ultimately New Zealand lost out to Australia.

“That was before my time, but we had a commitment in principle for funding for three events from our government partner and that was on a long rotation: [running Rally New Zealand] every four or five years and that was a big part of their support for us,” Goldstein said. “You don’t want to spend that time and effort and not be able to hold an event again into the future. We were looking at 2020, ’24 and ’28, but now COVID’s thrown everything up into the air. But that principle has a lot of sense to it.

“We’re a little country at the bottom of the world. If it’s going to be a world championship, we might not be able to have our cake and eat it – [and hosting a WRC round every] four years might be our bag.”

Words:David Evans

Images:Gepa Pictures/McKlein/Red Bull Content Pool