Motorsport: Holder holds centre stage

By Eric Thompson

David Holder and co-driver Jason Farmer on the way to winning Rally Whangarei. Photo / Geoff Ridder
David Holder and co-driver Jason Farmer on the way to winning Rally Whangarei. Photo / Geoff Ridder

World Rally Championship leader Hayden Paddon put the Rally of Whangarei field to the sword yesterday but it was his protege David Holder at centre stage.

Paddon and co-driver John Kennard won all six stages yesterday and took the day by over three minutes.

"It was a lot more fun after Saturday's problems," said Paddon. "We're still trying to develop the car and driving these stages is a lot of fun.

"We're not worried about the result as we were here this weekend to develop the car some more."

The gravel maestro may not have cleaned up his second New Zealand rally, but Holder (co-driver Jason Farmer) took advantage of the rest of field's misfortune. He kept a level head to win the NZRC component of the rally and now leads the national championship from his mentor Paddon with defending champion Ben Hunt in third.

"Today was all about managing the lead we got yesterday," said Holder. "I ... decided we had to pick a pace we were comfortable with and [we] are very happy with the win."

Rally Whangarei may not be a car breaker, but it sure tests the skill levels of the drivers. Of the 32 NZRC contenders only 13 finished the rally.

Hunt and co-driver Tony Rawston were the weekend's biggest losers with a big crash on the Saturday's sixth stage. Hunt was airlifted to hospital and was released later in the day suffering from three broken ribs.

But the tide did turn for Emma Gilmour (with Anthony McLoughlin). The pair have suffered badly from mechanical issues over the past few rallies but this time they were second, moving into sixth place in the series.

"It's been discouraging and frustrating at times, and to have a relatively trouble-free run is great," said Gilmour. "Getting this result and being as competitive as we were this weekend is very encouraging."

Kiwi APRC pilot Michael Young had his work cut out after being pinged with a 13m 45s penalty after stalling on the opening stage. But he and co-driver Malcolm Reid put their heads down to finish third behind Indian Gaurav Gill and German Fabian Kreim.

"Getting third overall has made us pretty happy, said Young. "After the disappointment on Friday and to be able to come back and finish on the podium is pretty awesome."

NZRC pointsAfter two rounds

1. David Holder 64

2. Hayden Paddon 51

3. Richard Baddock 36

4. Ben Hunt 33

5. Marcus Van Klink 31

6. Emma Gilmour 28

7. Anthony Jones 24

8. Jeff Judd 23

- NZ Herald

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