Polo pilot gearing up for NZ Rally Championship return
Pukekohe driver Shannon Chambers will launch his 2016 New Zealand Rally Championship assault this weekend as round two of the championship gets under way at the International Rally of Whangarei.
Chambers and new co-driver David Calder will be aboard their Volkswagen Polo R, the car having being debuted part way through last season.
Chambers and Calder missed the opening round of the championship electing to sit out the Otago event and focus on improving the driver and co-driver package ahead of the rest of the season.
“We’ve been doing a lot of testing in the off season to get to know the car. We only finished the build of the car part way through last year, and did a couple of rallies in it,” said Chambers.
“We’ve been working on the co-driver/driver relationship and developing pace notes. From there its down to me the driver to have the commitment to the notes and driving to what I’m hearing from David, not what I’m seeing. That’s where the speed will come from.”
Like last season, the VW Polo R chassis and body will see a 1.8L Mitsubishi turbo charged engine under the bonnet. The 2016 season will again see the VW Polo R engineered and serviced by current 2016 Toyota Racing Series team and drivers champion outfit, M2 Competition.
“The car is very fast, it’s a matter of learning where its limits and strengths are, and being able to match that as a driver and co-driver combo. We’ve got a good chassis balance and have worked to improve our engine reliability.”
Chambers has contested a number of one-day rally events in the Northern Rally Sprint Series this year, using the events as test sessions.
“Its been good to run the car in a competition environment. The rally’s aren’t super long, but you can go out there, drive quite hard and learn a lot about the car. We have been running the car as we would in a full proper rally, so with two spare tyres, full fuel load, engine restrictor etc. Even with that, we’ve consistently been in the top three at each event. It’s been quite beneficial.”
Looking ahead to the international rally this weekend, Chambers is hopeful of a good result at an event he says he enjoys.
“The roads up there are quite technical in that the camber changes quite quickly from corner to corner. You have to make sure you’re on the bottom side of the corner otherwise you’re in trouble. Pace notes will be everything this weekend.”