Force Motorsport have confirmed they will line up three of the new AP4 chassis for the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship with a star studded line up including WRC star Hayden Paddon, New Zealand’s most spectacular rally driver Andrew Hawkeswood and returning front runner Glenn Inkster.
Hawkeswood is excited for the rallying debut of their latest generation of AP4 style car, which has been designed and constructed over the past 18 months, incorporating lessons learnt from the team’s original AP4 car.
Although the team has built three separate makes of car, each runs common suspension including uprights, shock absorbers, arms and subframes, which also facilitate the move to an east-west engine configuration. With each car running a common platform, they will retain their sense of difference by each running engines produced by the manufacturer of the body shell.
Although the chassis of the three cars are fully AP4 compliant, current NZRC rules allow the team to run 1800cc unrestricted turbo engines and different aerodynamics while fully compliant 1600cc engines can be developed.
Hawkeswood will team up once again with Jeff Cress to campaign the latest generation Mazda 2. The car was tested for the first time before Christmas and has also competed in a couple of local rally sprints. The new car gives Hawkeswood the confidence to fight at the front of the field.
“Basically this is a car I think we can win in,” claims Hawkeswood. “We learnt a lot of lessons from the previous car and this new Mazda 2 just gives so much confidence. All the hours and hours of work have been worthwhile.”
Paddon meanwhile will contest the opening two rounds as part of a newly formed Hyundai New Zealand Rally Team, before his WRC commitments count out any further NZRC rounds. The Hyundai i20 Paddon and co-driver John Kennard will campaign looks externally just like the 2015 World Rally Car whilst running the AP4 platform.
“For a first test, it was quite successful,” says Paddon after an initial test. “In general, I’m really impressed with the car, first time out of the box the chassis is really good, the handling is really good, so I think it’s a really good starting point and a really good base to work from. I’m sure the car will improve a lot.”
Glenn Inkster also returns to gravel rallying after four years competing in Targa and circuit racing events, and brings with him a brand new Skoda Fabia, complete with factory R5 bodywork. Inkster is excited to into what he calls a properly exciting car.
“The cars just look proper. Rallying needs to be exciting in the service parks as well, the cars need to look spectacular and these cars do,” says Inkster. “For once, we’ll get to the Otago Rally and the BDA Escorts won’t be getting all the limelight!!”
Hawkeswood is also excited to announce that a further three cars will be completed before the end of the year.