Dale Budge is a sports writer for the NZ Herald.

Motorsport: Holder in for Paddon at opener

New Zealand rally champion David Holder. Photo / Geoff Ridder
New Zealand rally champion David Holder. Photo / Geoff Ridder

Defending champion David Holder will have the bit between his teeth at this weekend's Rally Otago - the first event of the 2017 New Zealand Rally Championship.

Holder will get first crack in Hayden Paddon's Hyundai New Zealand i20 AP4 car with the WRC star competing in Corsica.

Paddon, Holder and rookie Job Quantock will each spend two rallies behind the wheel of the Hyundai New Zealand car over the course of the season.

"I'm pretty pumped," said Holder. "It is a huge opportunity for us to get this from nowhere and to be coming on board with Hyundai and Paddon RallySport."

He has already proven to be one of the premier drivers in the country with his unexpected championship win last year.

With talk of the team expanding to two cars as early as next season, Holder could go a long way to securing a permanent drive if he makes the most of his two events this season.

"At the moment our main focus and the focus within the team is to get the manufacturer title," Holder said. "I am putting all my efforts into making sure I do the best I can on my two events and hand the car back in a straight condition for the other boys.

"Next year is another goal and things always develop as you go along. We would like to stay on board with the brand and Paddon RallySport."

Holder is hoping to put together a deal to contest the remaining rallies this year in a different car as he looks to defend his title.

Rally Otago sees seven of the new design AP4 cars in action - Holder in the Hyundai, Emma Gilmour (Suzuki), Glenn Inkster (Skoda), Andrew Hawkeswood (Mazda), Josh Marston (Holden), Carl Davies (Toyota) and Rhys Gardner (Mazda). Former saloon car star Greg Murphy misses this weekend because of a clash with his Supercars television commitments.

Other leading drivers like Ben Hunt (Subaru Impreza), Matt Summerfield (Subaru Impreza) and Sloan Cox (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X) will compete in the older style cars but will be extremely competitive.

- NZ Herald

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