Dylan Thomson and Amy Hudson, one of the youngest duos to ever tackle the New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC), are gearing up for this weekend’s Canterbury Rally to continue their strong start to the national championship in their Ford Fiesta ST.
Thomson and Hudson, aged 21 and 15 respectively, are punching well above their weight and are currently sitting second in the two-wheel-drive NZRC Championship, ahead of vastly experienced rally-veteran Dave Strong who is 12 points behind the young pair.
Thomson, of Waiuku near Auckland, said: “I come from a forestry background so it will be a lot of fun getting back into a forest in Canterbury. Although our main aim is to just improve our speed and be consistent throughout the whole rally.
“Having Amy [Hudson] as my co-driver will also help. It’s her home rally and one that she’s been to many times, so hopefully with her and her parent’s knowledge, we can really maximise our result.”
Despite the fact Hudson is only 15 years old, she’s already clocked up 10 rallies and comes from a family of top level rally competitors with both parents being championship winning co-drivers.
“A few people say I’m a bit too young but I love rallying and it has always been a dream of mine. I want to be rallying at the top level of the sport so the younger I start the better,” said Hudson.
“Plus having Mum [Lisa Hudson] and Dad [Rocky Hudson] around is a huge help. At the end of recce, we sit down together and go through the notes. If I’m not sure on something, I ask them and we make a decision together.”
Mentored by current NZRC Champion, Ben Hunt, and using the very same car that took Hunt to his two-wheel-drive Championship success, Thomson is hoping to use Hunt’s knowledge to consolidate his championship chances.
Hunt said: “I always wanted to help out a younger driver and Dylan [Thomson] was really proactive and enthusiastic and also helps out with our team, so naturally, we started helping each other. He has a lot of potential and I’m sure he’ll continue improving.
“At [Rally] Otago, he went at a pace that was comfortable and obviously it’s fantastic to finish a big rally like that without any issues. Then he really stepped it up at Whangarei and we saw a lot of improvement. If he keeps going like that, he’ll have a great year.”
The 2005 Ford Fiesta ST, which Thomson purchased in 2015 using his entire life savings, has only undergone basic maintenance checks ahead of the one-day sprint around Rangiora.
“This car [Ford Fiesta] is so reliable and easy to take care of. Apart from the standard checks, we haven’t had to do much else to it this year. Plus having Ben [Hunt] around for setup tips is also helping a lot,” said Thomson.
Meanwhile Thomson’s parents, Sean and Vicki Thomson, say they’re proud of the progress the pair is making and love watching the entire team work together to get results.
“As parents we do get a bit nervous the morning of the rally, but it’s also exciting watching them achieve their goals. As a mother, I just have to remind myself that they are safer in the rally car than I am driving to work each day,” said Vicki.
Canterbury Rally gets underway on Sunday 5 June at Joe’s Garage in Rangiora before crews compete across 171 kilometres of closed special stages around the Ashley and Okuku Forests. The rally then finishes at Lone Star in Christchurch that evening.
The next round on the NZRC calendar is the Gisborne Rally, held on July 2nd; another rally Thomson has never attended before.
Dylan Thomson Rallysport’s campaign is supported by Total Lubricants, Riordan and West Transport Pukekohe, Drew + Accounting, Sign Wise, Mcfoto, Absolute Spray Painting, Waiuku ITM, Mark Rose Construction, NZRW, LJ Hooker, Fowler Homes, Waiuku Beaurepairs and Magnum Compliance.