Kiwi crews ready for first taste of WRC competition
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Kiwi rally fans lining the gravel roads of Coffs Coast for WRC Rally Australia next week won’t have only Hyundai Motorsport star Hayden Paddon to cheer on.
While Paddon makes a bid to close out his troubled 2017 world championship campaign on a high note on the New South Wales stages, two other Kiwi crews will be having their first taste of WRC competition. And one of the New Zealand teams has taken its newest car across the Tasman for one of Australia’s leading rally drivers.
The two Kiwi crews are lining up for Ron Cremen Rallysport driving a pair of Citroen DS3 R3T cars — 1.6-litre turbocharged front-wheel-drive cars with a sequential gearbox, which are among a handful of local FIA homologated cars in the Australian event.
Bay of Plenty driver Michael Young brings his extensive experience of Asia Pacific Championship events to the WRC scene with his first drive in an R3T machine teamed with Hamilton’s Malcolm Read.
It’s the first of two international rallies for the pair this month as they will also contest the final round of the Asia Pacific Championship in India the following weekend with a Volkswagen Polo R2 car.
Christchurch’s Tony Gosling will drive the second Citroen. He has competed in a number of cars in NZ Rally Championship and South Island Mainland Series gaining most of his success in the Historic class with a Ford Escort RS1800 (bellow).
Gosling holds a commanding lead in the Historic category of the 2017 New Zealand Championship with one round remaining and for Gosling and regular co-driver Blair Read (Auckland) the Australian event will be their WRC debut.
Further Kiwi interest surrounds one of the leading Australian entries with Andrew Hawkeswood’s Brookby-based Force Motorsport operation sending its newly completed Mazda2 AP4 car — in the full 1.6-litre turbo specification — to Coffs Harbour for Australian driver Brendan Reeves.
Although Force Motorsport did the initial chassis work on the Mini Cooper AP4 car campaigned in Australia by Eli Evans, Reeves’ entry in the Mazda is the first overseas event for an AP4 car entirely built by the Force squad.
It’s a proven combination as Reeves debuted the car by outpacing the New Zealand crews to secure victory at the Coromandel Rally in August.
Reeves is the top seeded Australian in the World Rally Championship finale and will be co-driven by his sister Rhianon Gelsomino.
The full field for Kennards Hire WRC Rally Australia totals 87 cars across the event’s WRC section, and a national separate event that is the final round of the Australian Rally Championship and a double header for crews competing in the Queensland and the New South Wales state championships. The rally runs from November 17-19.