Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala has led the drivers' praise for the roads on today's opening day of Rally New Zealand.
The Northland stages have not been used in the World Rally Championship since 2005, when the crews spent two days on the stages north of Auckland. Only Sebastien Loeb, Petter Solberg, Latvala and his Ford team-mate Mikko Hirvonen had competed on the roads before.
"These are easily the best roads we have done so far this year," said Latvala. "They have been fantastic - absolutely fantastic! Stage four was the best, it was wide and fast and the cambers are just incredible. On some of the corners, you can go through a gear higher than you would normally and the car just sticks, it's a great feeling."
Latvala added that he had enjoyed driving in New Zealand almost as much as in his beloved Finland.
"It's quite like Finland," he said, "except the scenery is different and there are more cambers."
His fellow Finn Hirvonen agreed, saying: "They are really good fun to drive. Maybe I have been enjoying myself a bit too much today, though - I think I need to keep more of an eye on the other boys, I've dropped a bit of time. But, really, the roads are fantastic."