Defending New Zealand rally champion David Holder will get his first competitive miles in the Holden Barina AP4 car while sweeping the roads clean at today's Rally Waitomo.
Holder is standing in for former Supercars driver Greg Murphy, who is unavailable due to a schedule clash, at the six-stage event in the Waikato and King Country and will be the first car on the road.
He will sweep the gravel stages clean for the following competitors to find better traction but it isn't bothering the Tauranga-based driver.
"I think it is never ideal gravel-wise being at the front," Holder told The Herald. But he reflects on his season-opening win at Rally Otago as proof it doesn't necessarily discount a driver from winning.
"We did it at Otago and that turned out alright.
"Our aims this weekend is to get this thing to the end and have a clean run. We will pick up the speed for Tauranga [the final round]."
Today's stages are a mix of fast and flowing country roads with some tight and twisty stuff with big drops on either side of the road.
"I hadn't seen any of the stages before," Holder said.
"They are probably the best roads I have ever driven on the recce so I can't wait to have a go with a rally car."
Holder will use the event to get himself familiar with the Holden Barina because he will also drive it at next month's Rally New Zealand.
"We had a wee skid in it Thursday for the first time. It is always good getting behind the wheel. We did 20-30km.
"Mainly it was about getting seat position right and finding where all the buttons are.
"The rest of it I will learn on the stages.
"It is the same platform as the Hyundai - there are certainly some similarities you can draw.
"It has its own differences - obviously the motor package is different.
"It was pleasant to drive."
The first stage gets under at 8.18am.