Name: Phil Campbell
Motorsport class: NZRC
Current Race/Rally Car: 2012 Ford Fiesta R2
Website : Campbell Rally Sport
At what age were you when you first got involved in motorsport?
I first got involved in motorsport when I was very young when dad was co driving in a rally car. I used to go and watch him race with the rest of my family. The first form of my own motorsport was motocross. I got my first motorbike when I was five and raced motocross from when I was 11 until I got my first rally car when I was 21.
Who was your biggest influence in rallying when growing up?
That would have to be Dad. He was always interested in rallying when I was younger and it was him that helped me buy our first rally car . The rally driver I looked up to most was Possum Borne. I remember watching Possum at the Race To The Sky when I was there racing a motocross bike and that’s when I decided I wanted a rally car.
What was your first road car?
A 1984 Toyota Hiace van. I have always driven vans because they were good for carting my motocross bike.
What was your very first rally car?
A 1981 Toyota Starlet with a 4k motor. It was a lot of fun to learn in.
What vehicle format would you recommend for young drivers entering motorsport? Front wheel drive, rear wheel drive or four wheel drive and why?
I think anyone young wanting to get into rallying should start in something front wheel drive with not a lot of power. I had a lot of fun in the rear wheel drive Starlet I started in, but I think I would have been better starting in a front wheel drive. Something like a Fiesta is an ideal front wheel drive car because they don’t have a lot of power so they really teach you to carry your speed and that will help you in any other car you will drive and they are cheaper than going straight in to a 4wd.
What is the ultimate special stage / rally for you?
I think the ultimate rally that I have done is Whangarei. I’m not sure which stage is the best, but I always enjoy the whole rally. The roads are awesome and with so much camber everywhere there is so much grip and in some parts the car jumps from corner to corner.
What is your career highlight to date?
My career highlight to date would have to be finishing every rally I have finished. There have been lots of rallies I haven’t finished over the year, so I’m always happy to finish! One rally that stands out would be Rally Otago this year when I battled with Josh Marston all weekend and it came down to the last stage. We gave it everything we had and turned a 1.4 sec lead in to a 10 sec lead to take the win.
What advice could you give an up-and-coming driver looking for sponsorship?
Don’t give up. Finding sponsorship is something I have always struggled with but if you keep trying and asking lots of people there will be someone that’s keen to help you. I couldn’t be doing the rallies I am doing now if it wasn’t for the help of my sponsors – Letts Construction , Tasman Aluminium and Pro Speed Developments.
In your opinion who was the best rally driver of all time and why?
The best rally driver of all time would have to be Sebastian Lobe because he is consistently fast and has so many championships.
Other than rally driving what other work are you involved in?
I’m lucky enough to have a job that lets me have the time I need off to go rallying. I work for my parents business Letts Construction as a project manager and look after all of the different buildings we build as well as looking after our structural engineering workshop so it keeps me very busy.
What do you like to do to relax?
Unfortunately I don’t get a lot of time to relax. I am kept pretty busy with work and rally cars but when I do get some spare time, I enjoy spending time with my girlfriend Venita – who has also been my co driver since I started driving, and having a beer with my mates.
What’s one thing that would surprise most people to know? (are you an aspiring artist / musician etc?)
I don’t think I have any hidden talents or things to surprise you sorry.
Thanks heaps for taking the time to speak to me Phil. I appreciate how busy you are with catching up at work after recently competing in The International Rally of Whangarei and getting ready to head off to Hawkes Bay this weekend for the next round of the Rally Xtreme series.
See you there!