New war paint revealed for Kiwi Toyota rally rocket
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Another of the new machines competing in this year's 2017 New Zealand Rally Championship, a Toyota Yaris 'AP4' driven by Carl Davies, has been revealed in its full Cooke Howlison Toyota war paint.
Davies, along with his partner and co-driver Tracey Millar, is one of the many to upgrade from an older-specification Group N-based machine to the newer AP4 platform during the off-season -- the second of two Yaris hatchbacks on the grid.
Having given the car a shakedown last weekend at a local rally sprint, Davies was thrilled with its performance.
"The car went fantastic. I think we ended up with the fifth-fastest time of the day; we were stoked," he told Driven.
"This thing is incredible to drive. It's very exciting and very light. The stopping on it is incredible, and the power-to-weight ratio ... it's just bloody fun."
While multiple newly built cars are set to compete in the series, this Yaris is one of the few that works from an untested canvas. Under the bonnet lies a turbocharged 1.6-litre Toyota 2ZR power plant commonly found in the road-going Toyota Corolla -- its application a potential world first for the humble engine.
"All we want to do is finish. We've had probably 20 minutes so far in the car," he said.
"There's no one else in the world that we know of who's done a 2ZR into a 1600cc turbo. So it's just a matter of knowing there's a long way to go. We certainly aren't going to bin it on the first stage, put it that way."
The Waihi local was quick to praise the AP4 concept; underlining the wide allowance for car-builder creativity.
"There's lots of scope, you can basically do whatever you like," he said. "Basically we can use any engine within that Toyota family that's a 1600cc, 1800cc, or 2000cc.
"If you run a 1600cc like we are, you get to run the lightest weight. So, we're allowed to be 1230kg. If you run an 1800cc, the car has to be 1300kg, and if you run a 2 litre, the car has to be 1350kg.
"It's a fantastic idea, I reckon."
Davies' central goal for next weekend's series opener is to make the finish line, after a mixed 2016 season saw him finish 17th in the overall standings. But, that didn't hinder his spirit for the sport.
"My partner Tracy and I both love rally, my kids are both rallying; it's just our thing ... I've loved rallying since I was a kid. I remember watching the Audis come through when they first came here," he said.
"I've just loved rally cars my whole life -- I just wasn't able to afford it until I got to 45. We're all broken motorbike riders I guess.
"I thought [car builder] Andrew Hawkeswood had gone so far out on a limb to do what he'd done, that you've got to support him. If you look around at the local rallying in New Zealand, we've got one of the strongest local rally scenes in the world. We're going into Otago with I think 132 competitors; it's just incredible."
Next weekend's Rally of Otago is the first round of the six-round series, which travels to Tauranga, Canterbury, Coromandel, and Waikato. (The location of the November championship finale is still to be confirmed).