Michael Young, the only driver in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) from New Zealand, managed to secure third overall on his home event at the International Rally of Whangarei held this weekend, after battling with a former APRC champion until the very last stage.
The event also marked Young’s first rally in a turbo four-wheel-drive car, making the podium place extra special for the 22-year-old, as he came to grips with the new Cusco Racing Subaru Impreza GRB while still battling with Gaurav Gill (2013 APRC Champion) in a Skoda Fabia S2000.
Up until the final stage of the weekend, Young was sitting in second but was pipped at the post by only 1.9 seconds; one of the closest finishing margins seen in the APRC recently.
Young said: “We are really happy [with third]. We had a few moments in the last stage which cost us a bit of time otherwise I think we could have had him [Gill].
“It was really a fantastic rally. The Cusco team made the transition into a four-wheel-drive car really easy and Malcolm [Read, co-driver] did a great job all weekend. It was a massive weekend for me, especially with the added challenge of being second on the road today, so their support meant a lot and helped to get me here.”
Young’s road position meant there was more surface gravel for him to ‘sweep’ off the racing line, and it is well documented throughout rally circles that this ‘sweeping’ process can cause you to lose time.
“It was a little daunting having to sweep the roads this morning as I only had one racing line to follow, which was a first for me. But the roads were damp this morning so that worked in my favour as there was enough grip there for me with those conditions and luckily we didn’t lose too much time there. It was all a really valuable learning experience for me,” explained Young.
Gill also credited Young’s performance at the finish and said: “We had a great battle with Mike [Young] at the end. He drove really well considering it was his first time in the four-wheel-drive car,”
The next rally on Young’s calendar is the International Rally of Queensland, round three of the APRC, held around the Sunshine Coast in Australia.