New Zealand rally driver, Michael Young, is revved up and ready to tackle the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) which starts this weekend at the International Rally of Whangarei in Northland.
Fresh from his win at the Quit Forest Rally in Western Australia, Young says he is determined to carry on his history of strong results in the international series which kicks off at his home rally on Friday.
“As this is my second full season in a four-wheel-drive car and my fifth year with the Cusco team, I’m hoping to improve on the speed we have shown in the past and give them some strong results,” said Young.
“Although in saying that, finishing each event is so important because if you miss one round it is really difficult to catch up and those new Skoda’s will be really hard to catch… we will need to keep the pressure on.”
As the only New Zealand registered in the full APRC Championship, Young and Hamilton-based co-driver Malcolm Read are hoping to maximise on their local knowledge and experience on the fast flowing roads at the first round.
“I’m stoked to have Malcolm [Read] as my co-driver again because I know I can fully trust him on the pace-notes [detailed directions]. Together we have achieved awesome things and I’m sure that can continue, particularly at our home rally,” explained Young.
Michael Young. Photo / Geoff Ridder
The duo will compete in the new Cusco-prepared EZY Racing Subaru Impreza like previous years, although they have been nominated as the number-one driver for the team ahead of the season which sees a new white livery.
“I am so honoured and grateful to be given this opportunity [number one driver] by Cusco. They have supported me so much over the past five years and to be given the top car is a huge honour for me. They work so incredibly hard and always give me a great car so it definitely makes me even more determined to bring home a good result for them,” said Young.
The 23-year-old has been keeping busy over the off season by raising the vital funds needed to compete at this level along with working at Rallyschool.com.au giving people ‘hot laps’ in rally cars. “It’s been really good seat time for me and I really enjoy showing people the rally experience… some of them get a bit scared at the start which is quite funny,” laughed Young.
As a one-off, Young and Read have also entered into the New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) event which runs alongside the APRC event, meaning they can race head-to-head with dozens of local drivers; a rare opportunity for Young.
The International Rally of Whangarei starts on Friday at Te Matau ā Pohe [adjuacent to the Pohe Island super special stage near the town centre] and continues over Saturday 30 April and Sunday 1 May around Northland across 16 closed special stages and 275 competitive kilometres.