Hyundai rally driver David Holder and co-driver Jason Farmer aim to continue their good form in Whangarei as they tackle the second of their New Zealand Rally Championship appearances in the Hyundai i20 AP4+ rally car.
Following his hard-fought win at the opening round in Otago, Holder says his goal is to stand on the NZRC podium at this weekend’s International Rally of Whangarei (29-30 April).
The defending New Zealand rally champion and current NZRC points’ leader says: “Obviously, it would be even nicer to be on the top step again but, more importantly, to continue our success in Otago, we want to score as many manufacturer points for Hyundai as possible.”
The Northland rally is one of Holder’s favourite events. “The roads are just incredible!” says Tauranga-based, Invercargill-raised Holder. “Even just watching the previous year’s in-car footage has got me excited. It’s hard to pick a favourite stage as they’re all so good!”
The Hyundai car is run by Paddon RallySport under the Hyundai NZ Rally Team banner, and is co-managed by New Zealand’s world rally star Hayden Paddon and his father Chris. Engineer Mike Pittams, of Force Automotive in Tauranga, heads up the technical side.
Home in New Zealand prior to his next World Rally Championship event in Argentina, Paddon said: “The season has started well for the team and the focus has been on improving car reliability, but the tight turn around between events means Mike has been very busy in the workshop.”
Paddon added: “It’s great to see Dave and Jason getting more comfortable in the car with each stage and Whangarei is one of their favourite events. The Extreme suspension/Pirelli tyre combo is working well which is giving us a good package to fight at the front.”
Holder is making the most of the opportunity to drive for the Hyundai NZ Rally Team, working hard on his pre-event preparation. “The prep for Whangarei has been similar to Otago, with Jason and I having spent some time going over previous year’s pace notes and in-car video. The short turn around between these two April events makes this a bit more difficult but we’ve been working hard in this area.”
The 28-year-old says Rally Otago was a big learning curve in many respects, having had the opportunity for just a few kilometres of testing before jumping straight into the rally action as number one seed. “I didn’t make any changes to the car setup during the Otago event, which so much else going on. For Whangarei, however, we will try to make a few small tweeks to help me become even more comfortable with the car.”
Holder reemphasises his appreciation of the opportunity afforded to be part of the Hyundai NZ squad for two of this season’s six NZRC events.
“It’s such a huge privilege to be working with Paddon Rallysport, and be surrounded by so much experience on the team,” says Holder. “Jason and I are both so thankful for the opportunity and naturally we’re really looking forward to soaking up some more of their knowledge throughout the weekend.”
Holder and Farmer are among 54 entries for Whangarei’s NZRC round gets underway with the Friday evening running of the Pohe Island super special stage before Saturday’s two loops of four stages which takes competitors as far north as Paihia. Sunday’s stages take the teams south with another repeated loop comprising familiar tests like Waipu Caves before the 3pm ceremonial finish at the Quayside Town Basin.
Once Holder steps out of the car at the conclusion of Rally Whangarei, Job Quantock takes the wheel for June’s Rally Canterbury and Rally Waikato in October. Twenty-two-year-old Quantock won the inaugural Hyundai NZ Young Driver Scholarship in December last year. Paddon takes over the i20 rally car for the other two NZRC events, Rally Coromandel in August and the two-day, Tauranga-based Rally New Zealand in November.