NZ Championship winner out to follow mentor Hayden Paddon, writes Colin Smith
Mt Maunganui's David Holder is looking to use his New Zealand Rally Championship success as a springboard to an international driving career.
Racing in the tyre tracks of New Zealand WRC star Hayden Paddon is Holder's goal after he clinched the 2016 NZ Rally Championship last weekend with a round to spare.
Holder and co-driver Jason Farmer (Hamilton) won the Rally of Gisborne on Saturday, leading from the opening stage and taking victory by a comfortable 1m 25.5s margin in the six-stage stage event.
The maximum points haul extended Holder's lead in the championship and the mechanical woes and off-road excursions experienced by his main rivals on the Gisborne roads has put Holder into an unassailable lead in the championship.
There are 30 points available at the Goldrush Rally of Coromandel series finale on August 20 but Holder leads by 36 points and the championship interest will focus on a battle for second that sees Dunedin's Emma Gilmour leading a group of eight drivers separated by 12 points.
For Holder, 27, the title win is a boost to a fast move through the ranks of Kiwi rallying since he caught the eye driving a Toyota Levin in 2011.
The 2016 season has been only his third year driving a turbo four-wheel-drive car capable of outright success.
"Talking things through with Jason since the win we have decided the next thing is to get some overseas experience," says Holder.
"There are two obstacles to that -- money, of course, and getting more seat time."
Holder has put every dollar of his budget into contesting the four national rallies so far this year in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo8 that Paddon used to win the 2006 New Zealand title. But there have been no spare resources for testing or additional events to gain experience.
David Holder (left) with co-driver Jason Farmer and supporters at the finish control of the final stage at Rally Gisborne on Saturday. Photo / Scott Johnson
"Even now there are still some hurdles before we can get to Coromandel. But we want to be there for our sponsors and supporters," said Holder.
"The biggest thing is to use the opportunity that winning the championship presents us with to put ourselves out there, talk to as many people as possible and see what doors may open.
"The success we've had this year has rekindled my passion to pursue a career in international rallying."
He says defending New Zealand title next year is a priority.
"Doing the NZ Championship again next year is a no-brainer as it's the best way to get that seat time. I'd like to do that in a newer car and ideally with a relationship with a manufacturer."
Holder has been been mentored for two years by Paddon. The Hyundai driver isn't in a position to offer financial support but has offered driving and business advice, endorsed Holder's talent and lent co-driver John Kennard on one occasion in 2014.
"The goal from here is to have a programme overseas in two years.
"Seeing how hard Hayden has worked to get where he is today has been an eye-opener and that is what we are going to have to do," says Holder.