Hayden Paddon fights for Rally NZ's spot in the WRC
Leading Kiwi driver Hayden Paddon fears the world rally championship will never return to New Zealand if it fails to be included in next year's schedule.
New Zealand hasn't hosted a round of the world championship since 2012 and it's looking highly unlikely the event will return in 2018.
Paddon has launched a campaign on Twitter, "We want Rally New Zealand back for 2018", in a last ditch effort to drum up support and save the race.
New Zealand was on the shortlist to host a round of the 2018 schedule, six months ago. They are understood to have been overtaken by wealthier bids from Turkey, which last hosted a round in 2010, and Croatia, which has never previously been involved.
* Paddon: NZ deserves Australia's WRC round
RALLY FANS please RT this to show what the fans + WRC want/need - Rally New Zealand! This is a last ditch effort, it's now or never #2018 pic.twitter.com/afwVMJQ4J6— Hayden Paddon (@HaydenPaddon) August 7, 2017
South Canterbury's Paddon had concerns New Zealand could lose the event forever.
"I'd almost say it's at the point where if it doesn't come off this time, I think a lot of people probably won't put the time into it again and we may never see Rally New Zealand," Paddon told Radio Sport on Wednesday.
"We're sort of grasping at straws now. The inevitable is we probably won't get it back. We won't give up until the final calendar is announced, but it is certainly stacked against us at the moment."
Paddon said up until three months ago there were positive indications New Zealand was in the frame, but believed other countries had "swooped in" with more money.
There was no chance New Zealand could piggyback on the end of the Australian round with Paddon confirming cars would need to be sent back to Europe to get "re-prepped" and the obstacle of sea freight costs.
Should New Zealand miss out due to financial reasons, he said it would be a major blow.
"If dollars is a barrier to getting Rally New Zealand back, for me, that's a barrier that should be able to be overcome."
He said Rally New Zealand was held in high regard by the other drivers, teams and motorsport media. It had a strong reputation and he had only heard positive comments about how the event had been run in the past.
"Every driver I speak to, they all want to come back here.
"It's not just for the roads, but the history with the event. It's one of the best run rallies in the world, but also which is most important in today's day and age, the safest rally out there in the world championship. It ticks all the boxes."
Nine-time world rally champion, Frenchman Sebastien Loeb, triumphed in Auckland the last time the event was held in New Zealand in 2012.
Paddon sits eighth in the world rally championship standings with four rounds left.
The next round is in Germany, starting on August 18.