Raana Horan has been one of the finds of the New Zealand Rally Championship this season and now he will have the best car in the country.
Horan, who lies seventh in the championship at present, has agreed to buy the Skoda Fabia R5 India's Gaurav Gill used to win the Asia Pacific Rally Championship last year and hopes to drive it in next month's Rally Coromandel.
Having competed successfully for years as an off-road racer, Horan has adapted well to rally driving over the past year and went close to winning Rally Canterbury in June. He has demonstrated impressive speed in an older model car but will get arguably the best non-WRC car in the world in what will be a massive boost to the domestic championship.
"I decided a while ago that R5 was the better concept for me because I didn't want to go through building a car and teething one out," Horan told The Herald.
"New, they are quite a lot more expensive so I wasn't after a new one straight away and I had a look at some used ones. I talked to Neil [Allport] about his one and then the Skoda came up from the guy in Australia and they had five of them in their garage. He offered me a couple, the price was right and so I agreed to buy one of them."
The car has been used on New Zealand roads. Gill claimed victory at International Rally of Whangarei in it last year.
"It is ex-Skoda Motorsport," Horan explained. "I think they use them for about 1000km and then they ship them off down here on contract to Lane at Torque Performance.
Gaurav Gill used it and then Eli Evans did one rally in it and it has been sitting there ever since.
"The plan is that I agreed to buy it. Next Thursday it will be prepped in Sydney and then shipped the following Monday. It will get complied and hopefully I will get it out to do some testing before the next rally and get a new livery on it."
Horan's Skoda will be the second R5 to hit New Zealand shores. Last year three-time national champion Neil Allport purchased a Ford Fiesta and that has made a handful of appearances in the national championship with a couple of different drivers.
It is understood another domestic driver is seriously considering buying one of the other available Skoda R5s.