First NZRC win for Holder, as ŠKODA sweep APRC
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Holder win leads series of firsts at International Rally of Whangarei
The combination of David Holder and Jason Farmer have converted the pressure of being the overnight leader into victory of round two of the 2016 New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) at the International Rally of Whangarei.
The win is Holder's first ever in the NZRC, and Farmer's first ever win as a co-driver.
“This is our fifth [Rally Whangarei], and we hadn't finished one yet, so to do it in this style is pretty special,” Holder said to Driven.
“Jase has done 20-odd years of co-driving, and this is his first win. So pretty good for both of us.”
Holder entered the final day with a healthy margin over the second-placed Emma Gilmour and her Suzuki Swift Maxi — a lead he would manage to retain over a markedly less chaotic final day.
“We had a good lead, and knew about the 'don't choke' mentality, and I just wanted to get in and do a clean drive. And that's what we did this morning. This afternoon we just picked it up a wee bit on the second pass,” added Holder — now the NZRC points leader.
Gilmour's second place in the Suzuki is the car's best result, and equals her best result in an NZRC event.
Though Gilmour showed competitive pace throughout the rally's final day, a large crash for reigning champion Ben Hunt, and technical dramas for WRC Rally Argentina winner Hayden Paddon helped play the Vantage Windows & Doors car into contention. Dylan Turner rounded out the NZRC podium in his LJ Hooker Mitsubishi.
For Paddon [above], the event is a full circle — as Holder was able to haul the driver's old Mitsubishi Evo VIII into the winners circle nine years after Paddon had used the same car to the same effect.
“We won our first rally with that car some nine years ago. [Holder's] been putting in a big effort and he's got a good lead in the championship now, so he's in a really good place to try and win it,” said Paddon.
“He's a good driver; he's easy on equipment, he's smart, he's smooth, he listens to everything. It's encouraging.”
Paddon restarted the rally on the final day and, despite being out of contention for a result, he pushed the car to its limits — winning each of the day's six stages.
“When you get to drive on these cambered roads, you don't have them anywhere else in the world — where you're jumping from corner to corner. I actually forgot how good it was, because we haven't been here for three years.
“The goal is to make it a car that's easy to drive, so that I have confidence putting someone else in it. At the moment you have to fight with the car too much, so we really want to improve this before we put someone else in it.”
In the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) proceedings, India's Guarav Gill [above] and Germany's Fabian Kriem completed a ŠKODA MRF Tyres 1–2 — the dramatic inter-team battle between Gill and Kriem only resolving itself at the end of the final stage to see Gill claim the overall International Rally of Whangarei win.
“It’s a great result for me and for the team. We like this rally and it always teaches you a lot, and today we managed to push a bit harder and got the desired result,” said Gill, claiming the win by just over 30 seconds.
“This is great! Unbelievable!” followed Kriem, his second-place result particularly impressive as it comes on his gravel-surface debut.
“It is a really nice feeling and I think for the first time on gravel, I found a very good speed today. On the last stage it was raining a lot and very slippery on the tarmac section. But I really enjoy it.
“The Skoda was very good. Many thanks to the team, Team MRF and Skoda Motorsport for the perfect car. It worked very well and I look forward to the next event.”
Filling the final step of the APRC podium was New Zealander Mike Young [above] — his result doubling as fourth in the NZRC order, as he and co-driver Malcolm Read were entrants in both competitions.
“I’m pretty happy with that [third place] after Friday night and the disappointment of a 14 minute penalty. I think we showed pace this weekend and we won quite a few stages outright in both the APRC and NZRC [New Zealand Rally Championship],” said the Cusco pilot.
Round three of the 2016 New Zealand Rally Championship is June 5th's Lone Star Canterbury Rally, while round two of the 2016 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship is Rally Queensland, on June 18-19.