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First held in 1983, the Daybreaker Rally became one of New Zealand’s most iconic gravel-based competition rally events and regularly ran as a round of the National Rally Championship.


Although the event has at times not run over the past 40 years, with its most recent edition being in 2015, Manawatu’s Daybreaker Rally boasts some of New Zealand’s most recognizable motorsport names as winners, including the late Possum Bourne and past New Zealand Rally Champions Neil Allport, Joe McAndrew, Dean Sumner, Ben Hunt and Manawatu’s own Geof Argyle and Bruce Herbert.


The New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) is this country’s premier nationwide championship and as such, attracts New Zealand’s best drivers to compete on many of various region’s most challenging roads for the prestigious MotorSport New Zealand-sanctioned rally championship titles.


The 2023 NZRC was initially confirmed as a six-round series – Rally of Otago, International Rally of Whangarei, South Canterbury Rally, Hawkes Bay Rally, Rally Coromandel and Rally Bay of Plenty. However, with the national disasters that Hawkes Bay and Coromandel experienced earlier in the year, sadly the two championship rounds that were planned for these regions have been cancelled, allowing the rural communities affected to concentrate on the reinstatement of their properties.


R2G have joined forces with experienced members of Hawkes Bay Car Club, Manawatu Car Club, Wairarapa Car Club and Rally New Zealand Limited to re-launch the Daybreaker Rally in Manawatu this September.


The 2023 Daybreaker Rally will be Round 4 of the New Zealand Rally Championship and will also be the penultimate round of what is now a five-round series.


Headlining the return of the 2023 Daybreaker Rally will be New Zealand’s best and most current rally stars, including WRC Round Winner and 5x New Zealand Rally Champion Hayden Paddon, 3x Supercars Champion Shane van Gisbergen, 2015 & 2019 New Zealand Rally Champion Ben Hunt and NEOM McLaren XE factory driver Emma Gilmour.


Our event Schedule allows for a capacity of 100 competitors. On the 7th of June we opened an ‘Intention to Enter’ application. Within a week we had 97 applications. Along with Paddon, van Gisbergen, Hunt and Gilmour, the event will attract up to 40 NZRC entries and indications show a further 60 allcomers will complete the 100-strong field.

When is Daybreaker Rally?

The 2023 Daybreaker Rally will be held on Friday 22 September and Saturday 23 September 2023.


The feature event of Friday will be the Ceremonial Start, which will be held in the Manchester Square in Feilding town centre with the iconic Clock Tower as the backdrop. The Ceremonial Start will include a driver signing session, driver interviews, car show featuring all competitor cars and the ceremonial start – with all rally cars going over the start ramp.


On Saturday, the rally teams will depart just prior to daybreak and head north to compete on eight gravel Special Stages in the lower Rangitikei and Manawatu districts.


The day will conclude with a publicity Super Special Stage at Manfeild followed by the official finish podium.



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