Motorsport: Rising star ready for rallying action

By Colin Smith

Young Mount Maunganui driver David Holder is chasing vital national championship points this weekend in the Possum Bourne Memorial Rally which follows the main field in the WRC Brother Rally of New Zealand.

Holder - who hails from Southland and shifted to live at Mount Maunganui last year - has shown considerable promise in the early rounds of the 2012 New Zealand Rally Championship.

The 23-year-old engineer competes with his older brother James as co-driver in an older model Toyota Levin which isn't eligible for the WRC event - so will line up as the fourth-seeded driver in the Possum Bourne Memorial Rally which follows an identical route and is also part of the fourth round of the national championship.

In spite of a driving career that has so far seen him contest just nine rallies, Holder's potential has been recognised by the Rally New Zealand organisers who have assisted his campaign through the "Rising Stars Scholarship" programme and also by New Zealand's Production World Rally Champion Hayden Paddon.

Paddon has been impressed by the young driver's speed and commitment and has agreed to provide mentoring help to guide Holder to the top levels of rallying.

"We have been very fortunate that a lot of people have helped us to get where we are today," said Paddon. "We still have a long way to go in world rallying and are fully focused on that, but I also enjoy helping where I can and hope to continue to help the growth of New Zealand rallying.

"We believe that David has huge potential to do well in the sport, with the World Rally Championship within his reach.

"While we are not in a position to help financially, we will help by giving advice and passing on the things that we have learnt, from driving training, promotion, media, and other aspects away from competition that will help fast-forward his learning and experience."

Holder is competing both the rookie and open 2WD categories in his 1600cc Toyota. His limited experience hasn't slowed his progress and he has been the pace-setting 2WD driver on several events, surprising many with his ability to learn and adapt quickly.

"Having Hayden's support is definitely going to be a huge help and being able to draw on his vast experience and advice, will without doubt be beneficial in ensuring I reach the top level in rallying. I'm extremely grateful and look forward to working with him to learn more."

Holder's plans for the future are lofty: He aims to be competing in the FIA WRC Academy within two years and his long-term goal is to win the main WRC drivers championship.

The 2WD academy is one of the feeder series to the main World Rally Championship and is focused on drivers under 25 years of age. The winner's prize is a fully paid drive in the higher level SWRC for the following year.

"I'd love to be competing in the academy next year," says Holder. "But realistically we need to look at budget, and another year in the NZRC would be beneficial in terms of experience, building our profile and commercial partnerships."

"We'll look at upgrading our car to run a Ford Fiesta in the Fiesta Sporting Trophy section of the NZRC for 2013, then at making it to the academy in 2014, and beyond."

Meanwhile, the Tauranga crew of Phil Campbell and Venita Fabbro withdrew their Rally NZ entry last week after running out of time to repair their Ford Fiesta ST after a crash at the Otago round of the NZRC three weeks ago.

Title for couple

Consistent driving in three car-breaking events has earned Mount Maunganui's Jason and Tania Delahunty the 2012 North Island Off Road Racing title and a points leads going into October's national championship final.

The couple campaign with a Holden V6-powered Toyota LandCruiser in the ORANZ national series and wrapped up the Class 4 and outright North Island titles - ahead of the sophisticated Class 1 buggies and Class 8 Thunder Trucks - by finishing 11th at the tough Woodhill 100 event on Queen's Birthday weekend.

Only 26 of the 59 starters were classified as finishers in the 246km forest event northwest of Auckland. "It was a real beater," said Delahunty. "We broke the cab off its chassis mounts it was so rough but we kept going to finish 11th and win the North Island Champs by seven points.

"We haven't won our class at all the events this year but we have been consistent. We're in a good points position going into the national final at Hawke's Bay over Labour Weekend and it will come down to a bit of good luck and getting a clean run."

There is short course racing and a 200km Gwavas Forest enduro race at Labour weekend to decide the national championship.

Delahunty won the national title in Class 6 (for road registered vehicles) last year but has moved to Class 4 (for more modified four and six cylinder vehicles) this year. "It still has a standard chassis, the only difference this year is I've taken the windscreen out and it's not registered for the road anymore."

Before the NZ Champs final Delahunty plans to race at the Auckland Enduro Champs in August.

Unbeaten effort

International motocross racer Cody Cooper has kept busy during the mid-season break in the Australian MX Nationals calendar.

After five rounds the Australian series has taken a six-week hiatus and Cooper has raced at New Zealand events delivering an unbeaten performance at the annual Battle of the Clubs event at Taupo, then making a trip to the South Island to race at the Michael Godfrey Memorial Motocross at Omihi, north of Christchurch. Cooper won all five of his MX1 (open class) races at the two-day event at Omihi, and then also won the all-capacities feature race ahead of Suzuki teammate Scott Columb.

Round six of the Australian Nationals is at Hervey Bay in Queensland on July 1. Cooper is ranked sixth in Australia after five rounds, the Suzuki ace having notched up a race win and several top-five finishes in this fiercely-fought international competition.

Off-road action

The Bay of Plenty's biggest motorcycle race is all set to go in the forests near Kawerau next month.

The Tony Rees Honda Tarawera 100 - now in its 35th year - takes place on July 7. Organised by the Tarawera Trail Bike Riders Club, the off-road endurance race covers about 160km of forest trails, fire breaks and farmland - a four-lap challenge that takes the leading riders something in the region of over three hours to complete.

The race begins at 10am with a spectacular "shotgun" start. It's a dead-engine start with riders needing to start their bikes before a dash across paddocks and heading into the forest. Access to the pits and start-finish area is from Tahuna Rd, Te Teko. The Tarawera 100 attracts riders from across a variety of two-wheel disciplines including motocross, cross country and enduros.

At the 2011 event, motocross champ Cody Cooper led home his Suzuki team-mate Rhys Carter while enduro racer Reece Burgess (Tauranga) finished third ahead of veteran motocross racer Darryll King (Hamilton).

A novice class has been introduced this year for first-time Tarawera 100 entrants while the Veterans (over 35), Super Vets (40+) and Mega Vets (50+) are always a well-supported aspect of the event.

Vehicles on show

Several leading Bay of Plenty drag racing teams will display cars at the annual Bay Rodders and National Street Rod Association swap meet and car show this Sunday. Staged undercover from 9am to 2pm in the Durham St car park building, the drag racing element is expected to include the supercharged '27 Roadster campaigned by Lindsay and Karen Hay, Dave Gauld's Top Alcohol '34 Ford Coupe and Mike Reid's'55 Chevy Doorslammer. Another high-profile local car expected to be on show is Dave Best's'65 Corvette which features on the cover of NZV8 magazine.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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