Dave Holder: ‘You’ve got to be over there (Europe)’

| Photographer Credit: Terry Marshall/Euan Cameron Photography

Driven, would be the word to describe David Holder,  He and his team of family and supporters are on a mission to compete in (and win) the World Rally Championship. So what is he up to now and where has he come from?

This season Holder is driving the Holden Barina AP4 car that Greg Murphy had been campaigning for the last two years.  Along with co-driver Jason Farrmer, they are competing in the first two rounds of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship here in NZ (Rally Otago and Rally Whangarei).

Holder had an impressive first full season in the 2012 NZ Rally Championship winning Open Class 2WD and Rookie of the Year.

He then moved up to the top 4WD class for the 2014 NZRC finishing third overall as well as being named NZ Junior Rally Champion.

2015 proved a challenge.  A major crash which extensively damaged his car left him and the team watching rather than competing.

He was joined in 2016 by current co-driver Jason Farmer and together they won the overall NZ Rally Championship, winning two of the five rounds and taking the title with a round to spare.

Dave Holder and Jason Farmer competing at Rally Whangarei in 2016
Dave Holder and Jason Farmer competing at Rally Whangarei in 2016

In late 2017 both Holder and Farmer tested one of the M-Sport Poland prepared Ford Fiesta R2 EcoBoost cars which provide the one-make formula for the Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC).  They contested the five-round championship in 2018 with mixed results, the best being a third overall in Rally Turkey.  They were certainly ‘thrown-in’ the deep end with the first event being Rally Sweden and driving in snow.  Tarmac was next with Rally Corsica then gravel events for Rallies Portugal, Finland and Turkey.  A ninth overall for the pairing from a steep learning curve.


Dave Holder and Jason Farmer competing in the JWRC Rally Turkey - credit Honza Fronek
Dave Holder and Jason Farmer competing in the 2018 JWRC Rally Turkey – credit Honza Fronek

I caught up with Dave at Rally Otago where the team was battling all sorts of mechanical issues and asked him what the plan ahead was for him?

“The idea is to get over there (Europe) and get some experience in the rallies that you need to be doing.  We were originally looking at Eastern Europe but it has got to hard with visa’s so it will probably be the UK as it will be easy to travel.

“The aim is to do the APRC this year with the final in China later in October and next year go to Europe full time and do the WRC2.”

The next question I put to Dave was ‘What did he learn from his season competing in the JWRC?’

“You’ve got to be over there, that’s why we are making that change.  Otherwise you can only read about it on the internet. So to learn here is great, but all of our roads are the same.  When you’ve done them a few times you largely know what you are doing.

“Whereas (pace) notes over there are different. You will be on roads that you have never seen before for a start.  While the locals have that knowledge, that is the challenge for us.  We have to go and learn them to be fast over there.

“We were out of our comfort zone last season.  For a start I had to learn to left-foot brake. The logistical stuff of being in someone else’s country, you have to be very well planned.  Ultimately it does come down to learning the rallies over there.

Dave Holder and Jason Farmer's Holden Barina AP4 car in service at Rally Otago 2019
Dave Holder and Jason Farmer’s Holden Barina AP4 car in service at Rally Otago 2019

“Turkey, as an event, was the highlight for us, even though it was tough.  Everything worked for us in Turkey.

“We had struggled all year just trying to fund it so we got to many of the events flustered and not having done the prep that should have been done.

“At Turkey we were able to switch off a week out and did the work which made a lot of difference to our confidence and just knowing the roads.  No one else had done the rally so we were effectively on a level playing field.  Everything clicked and we even won a couple of stages!

“We definitely we have developed quite a lot and know I am a lot better driver than I was at the beginning of last year.

Dave Holder had the 'thumbs-up' despite mechanical issues at Rally Otago and eventually retiring out of the event.
Dave Holder had the ‘thumbs-up’ despite mechanical issues at Rally Otago and eventually retiring out of the event.

“It’s not going to be easy.  Ultimate the funding will come from NZ but we need to be in Europe meeting people.

“Tony Gosling is an example of this.  I met him on a recce the first year I did the nationals (2012).  Since then I have done 29 or so rallies in his cars.  That’s come from the relationship, from meeting him.  From my experience last year, Kiwis have a pretty good name and are well liked.

“It’s about being there and meeting the right people.  If we are there and an opportunity comes up we are there to take it.  If we are here (in NZ) then it is much more difficult.”

Benjamin Carrell

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits talkmotorsport.co.nz. He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!


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