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Global giants represented at the Southern Lights Rally

Updated: Jun 13

Six of the world’s leading car manufacturers are represented at the front of the entry list for the 2024 Transport World Southern Lights Rally: Hyundai, Ford, Toyota, Skoda, Volkswagen, and Citroen. Of these, Hyundai is making its first start on the Southland roads, adding a fresh dynamic to this year's event.


Leading the 65-strong car field, Hayden Paddon and Jared Hudson will bring the Hyundai i20 AP4 to the forefront, delivering yet another historic moment for the Korean manufacturer. Following closely behind them, Ben Hunt and Tony Rawstorn will navigate the rally in their Skoda Fabia Rally2, showcasing Skoda's precision engineering. Robbie Stokes and Amy Stokes will represent Ford in their Fiesta AP4, while Jack Hawkeswood and Jason Farmer will push the limits in their Toyota Yaris AP4. Emma Gilmour and Ben Searcy will round out this leading pack in the Citroen C3 Rally2.


Adding to the competitive diversity, Andy Martin and Rocky Hudson will bring the VW Polo Gti R5 into the mix, demonstrating Volkswagen's rally prowess.


The presence of these six manufacturers, all of which have dominated the World Rally Championship calendar since the Southland event was last run in 2004, highlights the evolution and global reach of rallying. Each of these manufacturers has developed cars for the R5/Rally2 category, underlining their commitment to pushing the boundaries of performance and innovation.


Back in 2004, New Zealand’s roads were dominated by Japanese giants Subaru and Mitsubishi. This legacy continues as Carter Strang and Catriona Flynn bring the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 to the rally, while Australia’s Molly Taylor and Andy Sarandis compete in the Castrol-backed Subaru H6 Impreza.


Beyond the leading pack, the rally field features a variety of other Japanese brands, including Nissan, Honda, Mazda, and Datsun, competing in either the Allcomers section or the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship.


Take your pick on who will finish first or which manufacturer will be best represented.

The rally begins with a ceremonial start at 4pm at the iconic Bill Richardson Transport World, leading into the first night stage in the Pebbly Hills Forest region. The event continues on Saturday with a further nine special stages, including service stops in Winton and Tuatapere, and concludes with a final stage at the Teretonga race circuit, combining gravel and tarmac, ending with a ceremonial finish at 5pm.


Spectators are invited to witness this global gathering of rallying excellence. Entry to the Transport World ceremonial start is available for a $10 donation to charity at the door, while spectator entry for both the Pebbly Hills night stage and the ceremonial finish is also $10. Tickets can be purchased in advance from Invercargill’s Transport World, E Hayes & Sons, Auto Centre, and Harrison Supplies in Gore, or directly at the gate.


With daylight hours being the shortest of the year, from 8:31am to 5:05pm, the Southern Lights Rally celebrates global automotive engineering and rallying spirit.



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