Driving for the Penny Homes Holden Rally Team, David Holder and Jason Farmer secured fourth place at this weekend’s two-day Rally New Zealand, while team-mates Josh Marston and Andrew Graves enjoyed a strong run on Saturday to hold fourth overall before a mechanical issue side-lined them on the way back to Saturday evening’s service.
Holder and Farmer had to contend with a puncture on Saturday’s heavily-gravelled roads which took competitors in the final round of the New Zealand Rally Championship from the event’s Tauranga headquarters to famed Raglan stages such as Whaanga Coast and Te Akau South.
Driving the #5 Holden Barina AP4+, the pair came through Sunday’s six special stages with mostly top-three times to improve from their overnight position of sixth into fourth. “It wasn’t quite the podium we aimed to achieve for Penny Homes Holden Rally Team,” says Holder, “but all things considered, we’re happy to have secured a good result for the team in the final New Zealand Rally Championship round.”
While obviously disappointed not to be able to re-start on Sunday, Marston was pleased with their very consistent performance on Saturday, completing each stage in the top eight or higher in all six Saturday stages.
“After all the changes and ongoing development we’ve done with the car throughout the season, we were really going in a positive direction,” Marston said. “To complete day one of Rally New Zealand in fourth overall is some reward for our RDL crew who have worked so hard with the cars on their debut season. As gutting as it is to not finish, it’s still really encouraging to be making good steps forward – we just needed another rally this year!
“As a team, we’ve all worked well together and we couldn’t be more happy to see Dave’s car run so well this weekend. Dave posted some very good times through Sunday’s stages with three top-two times, so this backs up the development we’ve been doing to make the cars more consistent.
“We’re definitely ending our debut season with the Barina AP4+ cars on a positive note, and in a good position for next year,” said Marston. “There’s definitely some more to come, particularly with the engine, which we’ll tap into when we recommence testing early in the New Year.”
Holder was also disappointed not to see Marston continue with his strong run. “Josh obviously did a really good job on Saturday so it was a shame to see what happened with the waterline issue on the touring stage on the way back to final service. It would have been really interesting to see both cars vying for a podium.”
Sunday’s two loops of three stages were new or nearly new to Holder. “I didn’t feel like we were lighting the world on fire, but it was good consistent day as we moved up the leader-board. Taking Saturday’s puncture out of it, we could have been second, but that’s rallying.”
Holder credits great team-work for the strong result. “The RDL team is awesome, and they worked well together on both cars. Murph’s [Greg Murphy] co-driver Mark Leonard was there for the weekend and he was a huge help too.
“We can’t stress enough how much we appreciate the opportunity to be in the car,” Holder says. “I’m sure Murph and Mark would like to have been doing these two last rallies of the championship themselves, so it’s a big privilege for Jase and me to take over the Holden.”
With the final NZRC round of 2017 complete, Holder and Farmer ended up fourth in their respective driver/co-driver championships, Marston and Graves were 20th and Murphy and Leonard, who contested only three of the six rounds, finished 28th on the points-table.
The Penny Homes Holden Rally Team appreciates the support of Penny Homes, Holden New Zealand, MRF Tyres, RDL Performance, Fairview Windows and Doors, Provident Insurance, Stadium Finance, Aqualine, Supashock, Rubber Developments, Racetech, Makita, Castrol, FXD Workwear, New Balance, Alpinestars, Futura Trailers, Chemz and SignBiz.
by Kate Gordon-Smith/Relish Communications