Local gravel bashing hero returns to national rally scene
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David Holder and co-driver Jason Farmer are back in action at the top level of New Zealand rallying for the Otago and Whangarei events. Photo / Inmotion/Greg Henderson Former New Zealand champion David Holder is making a return to the local rally scene in preparation for more international competition this year.
Mount Maunganui-based Holder will chase the Asia Pacific Rally Championship as he looks to continue building on the international experience he gained from contesting the Junior World Rally Championship in 2018.
The JWRC programme was in a front-wheel-drive Ford Fiesta R2 and Holder now returns to a turbocharged four-wheel drive rally car for three 2019 events behind the wheel of a car he’s already familiar with.
The return to four-wheel-drive competition will be at Rally Otago on April 13 and 14 behind the wheel of the Holden Barina AP4 car campaigned in the last two years by Greg Murphy.
Holder got two chances to drive the car in late 2017 when Murphy’s Supercar commentary commitments clashed with the rally calendar.
“Greg offered me the chance to drive the car and since then we’ve built a friendship and he’s been a mentor for me,” said Holder.
“He’s been trying to sell the car but we’ve managed to lease it for three rallies.
“I know the car after driving it in 2017 and it’s had some suspension improvements last year which I’m looking forward to testing.”
Holder and Hamilton-based co-driver Jason Farmer drove a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo8 to victory in the 2016 New Zealand Championship and since then the duo have worked on international opportunities including a Junior WRC campaign last year highlighted by a podium finish in Portugal.
“It’s taken a while to put it all [a 2019 programme] together but I think Asia Pacific is a good direction for us in the the short term,” said Holder. “We’re still intending to get back to Europe later in the year and see if we can drive an R5 car.”
Holder’s programme is supported by Allied Petroleum and begins with the Otago and Whangarei events which, along with being New Zealand championship events, both count as qualifiers for a revamped FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship.
“Those rallies will qualify us for a winner-takes-all-final in China later in the year,” said Holder.
“I’m really looking forward to competing at the top level in New Zealand again. It’s a chance to make ourselves relevant again at home.
“You’re only as good as your last result and in New Zealand that was back in 2016 when we won the championship. “It will be cool to do New Zealand events again in a competitive car. Having been overseas you get an appreciation for how good and smooth the roads are here, especially in Otago.”
Three other Kiwi crews have entered the APRC category in Otago with the aim of qualifying for the Asia Pacific final which is China Rally Longyou on October 26 and 27.
The series’ new format involves qualifiers from the Pacific Cup events (two in New Zealand and two in Australia) going forward to meet with Asia Cup region qualifiers from rallies in Japan and Indonesia.
Otago top seed and defending champion Hayden Paddon has entered the APRC category at Otago in his Hyundai i20 AP4 while 2017 New Zealand champion Andrew Hawkeswood and his son Jack will run a pair of Mazda2 AP4 cars in the series.