New Zealand rally driver, Michael Young, is set to compete at Rally Estonia this weekend alongside Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) team-mate Sanjay Takale of India.
The duo, which sees Takale driving the Markko Martin Motorsport built Subaru Impreza with Young stepping in as co-driver, say they simply had to make it happen when the opportunity arose.
Competing in the open category of Rally Estonia held on July 15-17, Young says he is really excited to compete in Europe for the first time.
“I’ve never been to Estonia before but from what I can see, they’re a big rallying nation and have quite fast roads. I’m told a lot of teams use Estonia as a test before Finland because the roads are similar, but maybe without the crests,” says Young.
“This is also my first time competing in Europe. I’ve spectated at a few European events before but this is my first time racing. Obviously I’m just going to be co-driving but it’s still really good experience to see what it’s like overseas, and hopefully at some point I might get a drive.”
Young, who is committed to rallying all around the world, investigated the rally as an option himself but formed a partnership with his friend Takale to share costs and gain maximum experience that they can both take back to their Cusco APRC campaigns.
“Sanjay [Takale] and I are team-mates in the APRC and we’ve always been good friends. He also wants to compete in Europe so it was the perfect way for both of us to compete there this year,” explains Young.
Young pictured with Takale. Photo / APSM
The Subaru Impreza car, provided to the pair by former World Rally Championship (WRC) competitor Urmo Aava, is similar to their APRC Cusco Subaru Impreza’s, with a few extra upgrades like a sequential gearbox.
Although the 23-year-old says their main goal for the 3-day-event, comprising of 107 competitive kilometres, is simply to experience European rallying.
“We just want to enjoy the experience of rallying in Europe. Plus I also want to help my friend Sanjay [Takale] with his pace-notes [detailed rally-route directions] and to encourage him because he’s been out of rallying for a while,” says Young.
In an interesting twist, fellow APRC competitor and friend Glenn Macneall is also set to compete as a co-driver, sitting next to Hiroki Arai in a Ford Fiesta R5 for Tommi Mäkinen Racing.
“It will be really good to see Glenn again,” says Young, “hopefully we can sit down and compare notes because he [Macneall] has a lot of experience in Europe.”
Rally Estonia is also a round of FIA European Rally Championship [ERC] and FIA European Historic Sporting Rally Championship. The three separate events [ERC, Historic and open] have a combined competitor tally of 75 drivers and co-drivers, from all around the world.
The special stages, including one super special stage in Tartu city centre, will be run on smooth gravel roads of South-Estonia and approximately 10,000 spectators from 20 different countries are expected to attend.
Following Rally Estonia, Young will then spend another two weeks in Estonia on holiday with his partner Merle, an Estonian national who is also based in Australia.
After his European tour, Young will fly directly to China for the next round of the APRC, based around Zhangye in Western China which also sits near the Mongolian border.