Mount Maunganui’s David Holder has made his best ever start to the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, coming home in third place at DriveSouth Rally Otago after a hard fought battle for the runner-up spot.
Holder and co-driver Jason Farmer headed to the event looking to secure a solid result to not only kick start their campaign, but secure the extra funding required to get to the second round in Whangarei.
After being stuck in dust on the opening stage, Holder set a pair of second fastest times to enter the first service in third place, only 3.2 seconds off second place.
He continued the speed in the remaining four gravel stages across the day to put the Stadium Finance Mitsubishi in second place overnight, behind mentor and WRC star Hayden Paddon and crucially 15.7 seconds ahead of third placed Ben Hunt.
The second day saw Holder struggle for concentration as Hunt took a couple of seconds a stage out of him. In the end, a crucial mistake on stage 12 saw Holder spin, costing him 20 seconds and second place.
After putting a new suspension arm in the car at service, Holder set about chasing down the 12.9 second margin over the final four stages. He made the perfect start to the mission, reducing the gap to 6.7 seconds in the opening stage, then down to six seconds heading into the final stage, but in the end was forced to settle for third place and a solid bag of points.
“It was far from a perfect performance, that’s for sure, but there is plenty of positives to take from the weekend knowing there is a lot of room for more speed as well as the need to be consistent across all the stages,” said Holder after the event. “Full credit to Hayden, he was awesome and showed us all where we need to be.
“I certainly didn’t make it easy for myself on the Sunday, making a string of small mistakes and really struggling to find a rhythm.”
After making such a strong start to the season, Holder is now desperately searching for some new partners to join the existing team so he can build on the Otago result at Rally Whangarei.
“It’s a tough one, I really don’t want to take away from the support we do get from our loyal sponsors, but ultimately we can’t make it to Whangarei without a miracle happening basically.
“We know we have what it takes to take out the championship this year, but to miss the second round will probably make it unattainable without other competitors having problems.”