Young and Read making history at WRC Rally Australia
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New Zealand participation in Rally Australia has doubled this year with Hayden Paddon being joined by 23-year-old Bay of Plenty driver Mike Young who is making his world championship debut.
Young is teamed with co-driver Malcolm Read (Hamilton) and it’s believed they are the first all-Kiwi rally crew -apart from Paddon and long-time co-driver John Kennard - to have participated at WRC level since the world championship made its last visit to New Zealand in 2012.
Young has made a promising start to the event driving a front-wheel-drive Citroen DS3 R3T car, a significant change from Group N Subaru he’s campaigned in recent years in the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.
The Citroen is a 1.6-litre turbocharged front-drive car with a paddle shift sequential gearbox.
"After four years in a four-wheel-drive car it’s interesting being in a front-wheel-drive again,’’ Young said.
"It can be a little difficult mid-corner when the car does something I’m not really used to, but by the third stage it’s all starting to come together.’’
Young was in 22nd place mid-way through the opening day of the rally and was the leading two-wheel-drive entry.
"The main thing for us is it’s our first WRC rally and we need to get experience,’’ said Young.
"So the first thing is to learn the car and then build on that to set the best stage times we can.
"It’s three days of quite hard rallying and there’s a long way to go.’’
Competing in Australia isn’t an unknown for Young who has previously driven in the Queensland round of the Asia Pacific Championship.
"It’s similar to Queensland but here the road is softer and a bit dustier. It’s also a warmer time of year,’’ said Young.
"I’m expecting tomorrow (Saturday) to be a bit more like New Zealand with open and flowing roads.’’
The Ron Cremen Rallysport team which is running the Citroen for Young was originally going to be two-car Kiwi challenge. However, the second car for Tony Gosling (Christchurch) and Blair Read (Auckland) was damaged in a pre-rally shakedown accident.