I thought it may be worth bringing members up to date with recent happenings and explain the lack of events.
You may or may not be aware of the change in ownership of all Carter Holt Harvey forests in the Canterbury area to the international forestry group, Rayonier. Autosport has enjoyed 30 odd years of rallying in Ashley Forest under former ownership but with change comes the need for the Club to satisfy the requirements of the new owners. To this end I have spent a number of hours negotiating with Rayonier to set new guidelines to allow us to have continued access to the forest. I am pleased to say that I believe we now have a solid relationship that will stand us in good stead for the foreseeable future. To this end I would like to extend, on behalf of the Club, my thanks to the management of Rayonier locally, for going in to bat for us with their top management. Much of the credibility the Club has now is due to the professionalism and dedication of all the committee members who have been involved in organising events in Ashley, Mt Thomas and Hanmer Forests. It has been said that other users of the forests need to raise their standard to that of Autosport. With the ever increasing involvement of OSH in business and sport comes a greater responsibility for event organisers and venue owners alike. So our affiliation to Motorsport New Zealand, with its comprehensive insurance policy, strict organiser guidelines and adherence to safety plans, has allayed many of the concerns Rayonier had. There are still some matters to be finalized but I believe we can work through these in due course.
So much for the background. While all this has been going on we have missed out on two events. The first was Mt Thomas which was pulled due to logging operations, of which we had very little pre-warning. Because of the short notice we were not in a position to re-schedule another event. The second event, Tarn/Paringa Rds, as you all now know, was cancelled due to weather – the ford on the road in was over a metre deep! Because of this and the on going bad weather we have decided to run Makerikeri Rd on the 23rd July instead. This event has no access problems and the road doesn’t cut up should it rain.
While we are still running some of the familiar and popular sprint roads of the past there are moves afoot, from Rayonier and the Club, to develop 2 dedicated loop roads exclusively for Autosport use. These would be closed off areas of the forest under the Club’s control and may even be available for private testing. Early days yet but we are working with Rayonier on possible sites, both of which would need some preparation, and consequently probably not be available till next year.
The Star/Canary Furniture Rally of Canterbury 2006 is confirmed for the weekend of 2/3 September and is once again a round of Rally Xtreme and the Mainland Rally Series. It is envisaged running much to last year’s format with the same or similar roads subject to forestry activities. Further details will be released as they become available.
If you have any further queries please contact a committee member.