Michael Young, the only New Zealander registered in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), finished third overall at the first round of the championship held at the International Rally of Whangarei this weekend, after a committed drive to make up a 14 minute time loss.
Following an electrical fault on the start line of the first stage on Friday night, which forced Young and co-driver Malcolm Read to miss the stage and incur the subsequent 14 minute time penalty, the Kiwi duo simply focused on gaining as many points as possible and in the process, managed to take several outright stage wins in both the APRC event, and the New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) competition which ran alongside the international event.
“I’m pretty happy with that [third place] after Friday night and the disappointment of a 14 minute penalty. I think we showed pace this weekend and we won quite a few stages outright in both the APRC and NZRC [New Zealand Rally Championship],” said Young.
Despite being in a heavier and slightly less-powerful car than the brand new Skoda R5’s and the fast NZRC open cars, Young managed keep up and may have placed as high as second without the penalty, and potentially as high as first in the New Zealand event.
“Obviously the penalty was hard to swallow because we might have finished further up the podium but I know I’ve done my job and I’ve been driving quick all weekend. We will be back again to fight for another podium, and Australia is always a round I enjoy.”
With road conditions changing several times throughout the weekend, from dry and dusty on Saturday to wet and muddy on Sunday, Young and Read were able to stay consistent due to the near-perfect set up of the Cusco EZY Racing Subaru Impreza.
“Once we sorted out the electrical problem, the car was just magic,” said Young, “the guys from Cusco had it dialled and the Dunlop tyres were also awesome. The Dunlop tyres were particularly good on the wet stages this morning and that was reflected in our times.”
The next round on Young’s calendar is based around Australia’s Sunshine Coast at the International Rally of Queensland on 18 and 19 June. It is the second round based around the Pacific region and will see crews battle it out over 16 closed special stages totalling 240 kilometres.