Motor sport fans are welcoming the Targa New Zealand rally's annual return to the roads around Hawke's Bay for its 18th instalment next month.
The 2011 rally finished in Havelock North and the drivers this year will have an array of interesting local roads to negotiate during the final two days of the event which will be known as the "Targa Hawke's Bay" section.
The drivers begin special stages in Palmerston North on October 26 and travel to Hawke's Bay via Taihape, finishing in the Havelock North Domain.
The following day the drivers will contest eight special stages around the district with service breaks in Waipukurau, at Dannevirke High School and the old Mitre 10 site in St Aubyn Street in Hastings.
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said he was happy the Targa New Zealand drivers, crew and supporters would again spend time in Hawke's Bay.
"The competitors praise our roads as being among the best that are used for special stages during this prestigious event," he said.
"This event gives Hastings a chance to showcase our attractions to a large group of potential visitors. Retailers and accommodation providers will also benefit."
Targa event director Peter Martin said the response from Bay fans "was staggering" with thousands turning out to watch the cars race through the closed roads of the special stages last year. The 2012 Targa New Zealand starts in Auckland on Tuesday, October 23 and has again attracted a wide range of machinery, from exotic European cars, through to vintage sports cars and state-of-the-art, 4WD rally cars.
A ceremonial finish in the centre of Havelock North on October 27 will be welcomed by the crews after five days of rallying.
A breakfast and the official prize giving will be held in the Hawke's Bay Opera House in Hastings on Sunday, October 28th. The charity of choice for the 2012 New Zealand Targa is Cure Kids and it had raised over $500,000 to help children with life threatening illnesses and their families since 2002.