After getting rid of the cobwebs during the shakedown and subsequent opening stages at Pohe Island, the International Rally of Whangarei fleet heads out on to the quick Northland roads.
Sixteen stages remain for the 53-strong field of drivers, which includes three-time champion and WRC driver Hayden Paddon.
Another Kiwi hope, meanwhile, is looking to get valuable seat time on New Zealand's only international level car rally event.
Mike Young, who is entering his seventh Whangarei stint, and co-driver Malcolm Read will be testing their new car on the tracks.
Young said he's looking forward to returning to the track once again.
"The first time I did this rally was in 2011 in a really old car. From then the only year I've missed last year so I feel like I've got a good understanding of these roads," he said.
"This really is my home rally even though I'm not from Northland. The roads her are super-fast and there's lots of camber which makes it a joy for the driver taking on these roads.
"It's more about how fast you drive and how well you protect your car which is a good test."
Young's previous best finish was a runner-up run but has the goods to make that final leap.
However, with a new car in tow, the win isn't the main thing on the agenda.
"Our car is pretty new, it's never finished a gravel rally before so this year it's about developing the car and getting it through to the finish," he said.
"Hopefully it holds together and we can enjoy the rally."
Read echoed Young's sentiments as he adds the International Rally of Whangarei to a stacked 2018 schedule.
"The main focus is developing the car and the engine. We want to get the data so we can improve the car for future events so that's a big aim," he said.
"On the competition side, we will do our best but we want to make sure we get over the line."
Paddon, meanwhile, is in the midst of a hectic schedule which sees him leave New Zealand for Portugal on Monday for the next WRC event.
The three-time champion is looking forward to taking on the Northland roads once again.
"The Whangarei rally is what Rally New Zealand is famous for over the last decade," he said.
"The camber of the race is great and you don't get that anywhere else in the world.
"It is lot of fun racing in New Zealand and it gives us a chance to drive on the best roads in the world. The beauty of the national rally is we can try things in a competitive environment that you can't replicate in training.
"It doesn't matter what rally you do, you want to win but you can't take anything for granted. Consistency and reliability is just as important as performance."
With the gravel roads, Young said positioning will play a role in proceedings.
"Road positioning will definitely play a major factor, especially early on," he said.
"I'm not sure what order we are going in but there'll be a lot of gravel on the first pass. I guess it's been the same for a number of years now but the second pass is where the speed will pick up."
Today'sracing begins at 6.30am as the event heads north for the day's three double-run stages that loop up toward Paihia and then across to Helena Bay before returning to Whangarei and a service break. The journey is repeated in the afternoon.
Tomorrow's action starts at 7am through the Waipu Caves and Millbrook areas before heading west and north through Waiotira and back to Whangarei for a service break mid-morning.
After the late-morning, early-afternoon repeat run the cars arrive back in Whangarei for the ceremonial finish at the Town Basin from 3pm.
Tickets to the rural stage spectator points on Saturday and Sunday are $10 per day.