A record number of entries have been received for the opening event on the New Zealand Rally Championship next month.

A staggering 132 entries have been received by Rally Otago organisers showcasing the growing interest in the new-look championship.

Defending series champion David Holder headlines the field - confirmed to drive world rally star Hayden Paddon's Hyundai New Zealand i20 AP4 car.

Holder's Hyundai entry is one of six AP4 cars confirmed - also competing is local hero Emma Gilmour (Suzuki), Andrew Hawkeswood (Mazda), Glenn Inkster (Skoda), and new cars for Josh Marston (factory-backed Holden Barina) and Carl Davies in a Toyota Yaris.


The number of these AP4 cars is expected to double during the season as more cars are completed.

Otago Rally manager, Norman Oakley, said that the Otago Sports Car Club was thrilled with what quickly became an oversubscribed entry list.

"The NZRC is enjoying an incredible resurgence at the moment, partly due to the success of Hayden Paddon, but also through the great work that MotorSport New Zealand and the NZRC promoters are doing," Oakley said.

"This is a record entry for the Otago Rally, and while this will provide us with some challenges, we're looking forward to a successful event."

Altogether 53 cars (nine of which are included in the Classic field) have registered for the opening round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, with a further 36 cars entered in the concurrent Allcomers rally.

In addition, a strong field of 52 cars will start the popular International Otago Classic Rally, headlined by former WRC star, and last year's event winner, Markko Märtin from Estonia.

Paddon himself is confirmed to drive the AP4 Hyundai in two of the six rounds while former Supercars star Greg Murphy will contest the remaining rounds in a second Holden Barina after missing Rally Otago due to a clash with his television commentary role.