While Kiwi WRC star Hayden Paddon will no doubt be the star attraction at this weekend's Rally New Zealand much interest will be around the performance of Max Bayley's Ford Fiesta R5.
The Neil Allport-run car made its New Zealand Rally Championship debut at last month's Rally Waitomo where 21-year-old Bayley finished third in his first rally in a four-wheel drive car. It was the first time an M-Sport factory built R5 car had competed in New Zealand and there was a lot of interest from competitors about how it would go.
Allport was very satisfied with its debut.
"We are well happy with that result," he told The Herald. "From my point of view – the car was 100 percent fantastic. There were no problems at all.
"From Max's point of view - I think he did a really good, solid, mature job.
"There has been a lot of interest in the car but there should be a lot of interest.
"My gut feeling is that is the way forward."
The domestic championship has been inundated with AP4 cars over the past couple of years that has reinvigorated the sport but Allport has gone a step further by importing a proven world class car that needs no development to be at its optimum speed.
R5 cars are naturally more expensive to buy than an AP4 car but the advantage of getting an R5 is that all that development work has already been done in Europe.
Allport thinks more competitors will make the move.
"It is not my place to say I will buy another one to lease because I am not going to do that," he said.
"A lot of competitors need to take a bit more of a professional look at it. This is not Dad and Dave rallying out here with this car.
"It is another level. It is not an unobtainable level.
"The cost is not horrific but the big picture is the initial outlay is a lot. But after that the thing doesn't give you a problem. You come away with a really good car that can win you the rally if you drive it well."
Rally New Zealand begins with a ceremonial opening in downtown Tauranga on Friday evening before stages in the Raglan area on Saturday and Rotorua region on Sunday.