New Zealand will likely have two drivers in the World Rally Championship from May with Hayden Paddon joined by Michael Young. After success at the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, Young and co-driver Malcolm Reid will tackle five WRC rounds this year, contesting the DMACK Ford Fiesta Trophy category.
At the Asia-Pacific event they won the Production Cup, Junior Cup and Two-Wheel-Drive Cup and were invited to join M-Sport’s Ford Fiesta Trophy series. Perth-based Young, 22, and his father, Brian, went to Europe last year to have a look at the junior rally categories. They took in the WRC round in Germany and checked out the Opel Series, the junior Citroen series and the Fiesta series. Young settled on the Fiesta Trophy.
M-Sport has an enviable rally pedigree and he knew if they were running the show it would be as professional as it canget.
The series looks after its young drivers with mentors available for both drivers and co-drivers. They provide a weather guru, catering and have new Ford Fiesta R2 cars powered by a 1-litre turbocharged Ecoboost engine. The Kiwi pair were impressed by the support.
“The rallies are held on different surfaces and seem to be really well run. It’s a great stepping-stone, that’s for sure.” The British outfit has been impressed with the pair’s results over the past two years, especially finishing second in last year’s Asia-Pacific championship in a 1600cc two-wheel-drive production car.
“Although anyone can apply to join the series you have to be invited to actually take part, because they don’t want anyone with loads of money, but who can’t drive, turning up,” Young said.
It’s going to be a busy year for Young, who is also getting ready for the Asia-Pacific series’ opening round in Whangarei from April 17-19. Funding to do both championships is going to be a struggle.
M-Sport are keen to have a pair from this part of the world, so have put together the best possible package for the leanest amount of money.
The Fiesta Trophy has an impressive list of former winners, including Craig Breen (Peugeot factory driver in the European Rally Championship), Elfyn Evans (Ford factory driver), Pontus Tidemand, who has just signed for a manufacturer-supported programme, and last year’s winner Sander Parn, who gets an expenses-paid drive in WRC.
Meanwhile, Young is concentrating on getting his head around the Subaru 4WD he’ll be racing in Whangarei before heading overseas.