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Thu, 15 Mar 2018 - Dunedin panel beater wins Otago Rally Scholarship

Warren was chosen from a high quality list of 10 applicants for the award, and receives free entry into the 2018 Dunedin Isuzu Otago Rally, as well as a set of pacenotes and a cash contribution towards his entry.

He will drive his 1987 Suzuki Swift GTi in the rally, having previously competed in lower South Island hillclimbs and club rallies for the past two and a half years.

Otago Rally Scholarship convenor, Tony Johnston, said that selecting a scholarship winner was again a hard job.

“It was a tough choice, as it was last year,” Johnston said. “Any of the applicants would have been worthy winners of the award.”

Warren’s rallying is largely self-funded, with the occasional support from his navigator on events, and with a discount on paint repairs.

“My goal this year is to do Otago Rally, Lawrence and South Canterbury, along with most Otago Sports Car Club gravel events,” Warren said in his application.

“However, with the new rules regarding safety underwear and my budget, this scholarship would be my only chance of doing Otago this year. It’s such an awesome route too!

“I turn 26 at end of May, so this is my one and only shot at this awesome opportunity. I have navigated three times at Otago before, and driving it is certainly on the bucket list!”

The 2018 Dunedin Isuzu Otago Rally looks set to have a record number of entries this year, as the first round of the New Zealand Rally Championship, and incorporating the International Otago Classic Rally.

The event receives Major Events funding from Dunedin City Council, and is supported by the Otago Community Trust.

Based in Dunedin, the two-day event will take place on April 14 and 15, and includes famous Otago Rally stages Kuri Bush, Waipori Gorge, McIntosh Road and Whare Flat. For more information on the Otago Rally, visit

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 - NZRC-prep for Murphy and Marston at Westland Rally

This weekend’s one-day Westland Rally offers Penny Homes Holden Rally Team drivers Greg Murphy and Josh Marston an ideal opportunity to prepare for this year’s New Zealand Rally Championship which starts on 14 April in Otago.

Marston has already had his Holden Barina AP4+ out in competition this season, taking second place at the Autosport Car Club’s Cust Rally Sprint last weekend (11 March).

“Our RDL Performance crew has been working really hard over the summer on the cars, continuing with a lot of development from last season and refining many aspects of the cars,” says Marston.

“The car went great at the Cust event, straight out of the box. Now it’s about getting me more in tune so I’m looking forward to Westland with my co-driver Andrew Graves alongside.”

The opportunity to have both cars running at Westland this Saturday means the team will be on the front foot right from the start of the season, compared to last year’s debut at Otago when the cars hadn’t long been built and the opportunity for testing was limited.

Murphy is also excited to do the Westland event in the Barina; he’ll be joined by Timaru’s Mark Leonard as his co-driver again this season.

Murphy says: “The team has continued to develop the cars over the summer so it’s great to have a comprehensive programme in place this season. Westland gives us an important chance for a good run before the championship gets underway at Otago.”

Murphy’s Supercars schedule means he’ll be able to contest five of the six NZRC rounds, missing only Whangarei this year. “I learnt so much last year and RDL made great inroads with the cars, I’m just as pumped as last year to get into the action and make the most of the roads ahead of us.”

Seeded third in a field of 65, Marston says the Westland Rally is run on fast roads which have been used for several years. “It’s so fast and there’s a lot of local knowledge with those who’ve done it many times over the years, so we have to peg back any unrealistic expectations. There are no pace notes being a club rally, so we’ll be doing our own thing and see where we get. The main thing is the whole team gets to be here and run an event prior to the NZRC season. It’s going to be an intense season as more of the AP4 cars really show their potential.”

He adds: “I really enjoy the fast Westland roads. They’re good preparation for the Otago and South Canterbury rounds, and perhaps Whangarei if the weather’s good for that event this year. It’s a very well supported rally, and it’s great to see club rallies doing so well.”

Murphy is seeded eighth for the 17 March rally which takes in 113.5 competitive kilometres of gravel roads inland of Hokitika and Greymouth.

The Penny Homes Holden Rally Team appreciates the support of Penny Homes, Holden New Zealand, MRF Tyres, RDL Performance, Fairview Windows and Doors, Provident Insurance, Stadium Finance, Aqualine, Rubber Developments, Racetech, Makita, Castrol, FXD Workwear, New Balance, Alpinestars, Futura Trailers, Chemz and SignBiz. Follow the Penny Homes Holden Rally Team on Facebook Follow the results of the Westland Rally via ENDS/

Thu, 15 Mar 2018 - NZRC campaign important to Paddon

New Zealand’s star rally driver Hayden Paddon aims to make the most of the five 2018 New Zealand Rally Championship events he’s fitting in among this year’s World Rally Championship commitments with Hyundai Motorsport.

“It’s about staying competition fit; and while the events and car maybe different, you cannot substitute being in a competition environment,” says the 30-year-old of his 2018 schedule which includes the Otago, Whangarei, South Canterbury, Coromandel and Rally New Zealand NZRC rounds, as well September’s iconic Ashley Forest Rallysprint.

Paddon, who has made no secret of the fact he’d rather be contesting all 13 WRC rounds, has put together a 13-strong roster of international and national events.

“It’s great to be doing five of the six NZRC rounds with Canterbury being the only event we miss,” says the two-time New Zealand Rally Champion of what promises to be an extremely competitive national rally championship season.

“All five are amazing rallies starting with my favourite event, Rally Otago, in April. This year the NZRC even returns to the South Canterbury Rally in Timaru, which is where I learnt to drive so that’s going to be extra fun.

“Having an expanded New Zealand programme this year means not only that I keep my eye in but also get to drive some of the best rallying roads in the world. It’s a fun project with our New Zealand team and one that all of us enjoy. The relaxed atmosphere also allows us to maybe try the odd thing that we wouldn’t normally do.”

Paddon’s long-time co-driver John Kennard, from Blenheim, will re-join Paddon for five of the six New Zealand events.

“I’m very pleased John can co-drive with me again in New Zealand – it’s just like the good old days and he is also really looking forward to getting back in the car. There is one event we know John is not available to do, so we are yet to decide who will sit in the car for that event.”

For the New Zealand events, Paddon is back behind the wheel of the Hyundai i20 AP4+ rally car launched in 2016 and run under the Hyundai New Zealand Rally Team banner by Paddon Rallysport. Paddon’s crew has been hard at work over the offseason, ensuring the Hyundai is in prime condition with a ground-up rebuild. Paddon says they have devoted some development time on the car’s transmission, suspension and steering systems to again improve driveability and reliability.

“This year’s programme is fantastic for Hyundai New Zealand, who are huge supporters of ours, as they can more closely involved with the New Zealand events this season. We’re all really looking forward to it.”

With the first NZRC event just on a month away, Paddon has joined in with car preparation alongside his ongoing physical and mental training. “The passion amongst our small team and their commitment is hard to not admire. It’s a really enjoyable environment to working with good friends as we strive for the same things this year.”

One of the team’s ambitions, subject to funding, is the construction of a second Hyundai i20 AP4+ rally car, ideally before the 2019 season.

Paddon RallySport appreciates the support of their exclusive partners, Hyundai New Zealand, Pak’nSave, Winmax Brake Pads and Z Energy. ENDS/

Mon, 12 Mar 2018 - Rally México – Day Three Report
Hyundai Motorsport has taken its best-ever result in Rally México as Dani Sordo claimed second place, the team’s third individual podium result of the 2018 season
The team has achieved its pre-event objective of extending its lead in the FIA World Rally Championship manufacturers’ standings as Andreas Mikkelsen finished fourth
Thierry Neuville completed a tough rally in sixth overall, having started each day as first on the road. Both he and Mikkelsen scored Power Stage points.

León, Mexico

March 11, 2018 – Hyundai Motorsport has secured its most competitive finish on the gruelling gravel stages of Rally México, as Dani Sordo picked up his first podium of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with a strong run to second.

The Spaniard, along with co-driver Carlos del Barrio, has been on impressive form all weekend, registering three stage wins and being in victory contention for much of the event. In their second WRC round of 2018, the #6 crew led three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars inside the top-six with Andreas Mikkelsen finishing just off the podium in fourth and Thierry Neuville in sixth.

The combined team result has helped Hyundai Motorsport to extend its lead in the WRC manufacturers’ championship. With points awarded for second and fourth, the team has built up a 12-point advantage after three rounds, its most competitive start to a WRC season.

Keep the pressure on

Sunday’s final stages saw plenty more of the drama that has epitomised an exciting Rally México all weekend. Crews tackled the 24.32km Alfaro stage followed by two timed runs through the 11.07km Las Minas test.

Starting the day third overall, Sordo’s focus was on securing a podium, with an eye on pushing for second place. An incident for Citroën’s Kris Meeke on the opening stage helped the Spaniard, as he was elevated into the position. Fourth placed Mikkelsen closed the gap to Meeke but the Norwegian ran into his own difficulties in the rally’s penultimate stage, getting briefly stuck in a ditch on SS21.

Neuville continued to gain experience of being first on the road on Sunday. The Belgian battled through to a solid sixth place, overcoming a number of issues during the weekend. In a closely fought Power Stage, with 1.4-seconds splitting the top-four times, Neuville took three extra points for third place with Mikkelsen taking two points for fourth.

Second place in the first gravel event of the season marks an improvement on the team’s previous third-place Mexican podiums, achieved by Neuville in 2014 and 2017.

Crew Notes: Sordo/Del Barrio (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

First podium of 2018 and Sordo’s best result since Spain 2016
Seventh podium in total as a Hyundai Motorsport driver

Sordo said: “I am very happy to score this podium after what has been an enjoyable, competitive but tough weekend. We have shown good pace here in previous seasons, so I was optimistic that we would be able to fight for the top-three this weekend. It wasn’t entirely straightforward; even in the Power Stage there was a scary moment when we picked up a rear right puncture. With stones in the middle of the road, it was so easy for something to happen so we backed off and took it carefully to the end. A podium result is so important and we made the most of our road position in these really tricky gravel stages. It’s been a good team effort and I am particularly pleased to see us increase our lead in the manufacturers’ championship. Thanks to Carlos and to the whole team for this result.”

Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Second fourth-place for Norwegians as Hyundai Motorsport crew
Stage win in Saturday evening’s SS19 and Power Stage points

Mikkelsen said: “It has not been an easy rally for us, and we haven’t really been able to find the optimum pace or performance that we needed here. We made some changes to the car in service on Saturday evening, and I felt more comfortable in this morning’s final stages. We weren’t really in a position to improve, so we simply tried to keep things clean and tidy. There were definitely areas where we could have attacked more, but finishing fourth gives us important points. As a team we have increased our lead in the manufacturers’ table, and I have also moved up to third in the drivers’ classification, which is a positive to take away.”

Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Sixth place scores valuable driver points for the Belgian’s championship
Scored three additional points for third in Power Stage

Neuville said: “We approached the final morning of the rally determined to score as many points as possible for the drivers’ championship. I gave it all I could in the Power Stage, and I’m happy to take three extra points away from what has been a very tough weekend. Starting first on the road each day was far from ideal, but that’s part of the game. It was actually a useful experience to deal with those conditions, despite the obvious time disadvantage. We had some other issues over the weekend, so to come away with sixth place and to keep up the pressure in the championship is important. Thanks to everyone in the team. We have a never-give-up mentality, and Corsica will be another story.”

Another one in the dust

35th team podium and best-ever result in Rally México
Extending lead of manufacturers’ championship with strong team result

Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “We have witnessed once again just how tough Rally México can be, with lots of drama right up to the Power Stage! We are delighted to finish the weekend with our best ever Mexico result and to increase our lead of the manufacturers’ championship. Dani and Carlos have had a strong weekend, and it’s great to see them on the podium. Andreas and Thierry both picked up important points in the Power Stage, concluding a generally positive rally. Like all teams, we’ve had some issues to deal with along the way, but finishing with all three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC cars inside the top-six in such a demanding event is very encouraging.”

Next rally

The FIA World Rally Championship moves back to tarmac in a few weeks’ time
Corsica hosts the fourth round of the season from 5-8 April for the popular Tour de Corse
Hyundai Motorsport will return to the Mediterranean island as defending winners

Final Overall Classification - Rally Mexico

S. Ogier
J. Ingrassia
Ford Fiesta WRC

D. Sordo
C. del Barrio
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

K. Meeke
P. Nagle
Citroën C3 WRC

A. Mikkelsen
A. Jæger
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

S. Loeb
D. Elena
Citroën C3 WRC

T. Neuville
N. Gilsoul
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

P. Tidemand
J. Andersson
Škoda Fabia R5

J. M Latvala
M. Anttila
Toyota Yaris WRC

G. Greensmith
C. Parry
Ford Fiesta R5

P. Heller
P. Olmos
Ford Fiesta R5
Mon, 12 Mar 2018 - Rally México – Day Two Report
Hyundai Motorsport remains in the hunt for a podium finish in Rally México, the third round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) after Saturday’s nine gravel stages
Overnight leader Dani Sordo dropped to third overall after picking up a puncture in SS14 (Guanajuatito 2), with the Spaniard 10.9-seconds from Kris Meeke in second place
Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville continued to struggle for pace and good fortune, but ended the day in improved fourth and sixth positions overall.

León, Mexico

March 10, 2018 – Hyundai Motorsport remains in contention for a podium finish in this weekend’s Rally México, the third round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), despite a challenging Saturday on the gravel stages.

Starting as rally leader, Dani Sordo ended the day third overall, after struggling to find the rhythm in the opening loop and then suffering a front-left puncture at the start of the afternoon loop. The Spaniard, alongside co-driver Carlos del Barrio, is over ten seconds behind second-placed Kris Meeke but 46.8 seconds adrift of new rally leader Sébastien Ogier.

Andreas Mikkelsen has moved up to fourth overall in the #4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, with Thierry Neuville in sixth, having endured more drama on the penultimate day of the rally.

Saturday’s schedule saw crews twice contest the 30.97km Guanajuatito and 26.37km Otates tests before tackling the famous El Brinco jump. A lunchtime service separated the two loops, followed by two more timed runs around the Autodromo de León. An evening street stage in the city concluded the day’s action, which totalled 140.35km.

Drama unfolded for the Hyundai Motorsport crews right from the outset with Sordo lacking confidence on the narrow, slippery Guanajuatito stage, and Neuville losing one minute of time through the water splash.

Still embroiled in a close fight for the rally lead with Sébastien Loeb, Sordo started the afternoon loop with just a 2.9-second deficit. Unfortunately, the puncture in SS14 (Guanajuatito 2) saw him lose further time, as indeed did Loeb in the same stage. The Spaniard emerged in third overall behind Ogier and Meeke, with Loeb in fifth behind Mikkelsen and ahead of Neuville.

Crew Notes: Sordo/Del Barrio (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Stage win on SS17 (2.3km Autodromo de León), his third and team’s fourth of the event
Third overall after struggling to find a good rhythm and picking up a puncture in SS14

Sordo said: “A podium in Mexico this weekend would be a great result and I am determined to keep this important position for me and the team. Things haven’t gone according to plan today. I struggled with confidence on the opening stage and lost some time compared to my nearest rivals. The feeling was better for the rest of the morning loop, but it was in the first stage of the afternoon when we lost most time. I hit a small stone at the start of SS14, so had to drive the 31km stage with a front-left puncture. With no spare tyres to rely on, I took the rest of the loop quite steady, not pushing hard. We didn’t want to risk anything. Meeke is not so far in front, so we have to make sure we remain focused and see what happens on Sunday morning.”

Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Tough weekend continued for Norwegian crew
Fighting to secure fourth place overall with buffer ahead to third and behind to fifth

Mikkelsen said: “The morning was tough and our stage times were not so impressive. We were really struggling when the grip levels were low. Things were better in the afternoon and we were more competitive. On the plus side, we are up to fourth, which is not so bad. There is a big gap to Dani in third and to Loeb in fifth, so we have to really concentrate on our own rally. It’s very easy to make a mistake here, so I want to keep a steady pace and rhythm. It’s impossible to do anything about our position based on pure driving but let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Sixth overall after another demanding day
Good learning experience as first on the road

Neuville said: “It has been another difficult day, but we’re still there and fighting. We have managed to gain one position today, and there are lots of things happening at the front of the pack. The morning didn’t get off to the best of starts after we got stuck in the water splash, losing over a minute of time. We also had two punctures during the day which made things very complicated. We learned a lot as first on the road, so we have to take some positives away despite the obvious frustrations. We have to look forward to Sunday and aim for some points to minimise the damage from this tough weekend.”

Picking up the pieces

Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “There has been a lot of drama today, and unfortunately we haven’t come through the day unscathed ourselves. Punctures for Dani and for Seb Loeb saw the lead of the rally change hands so all we can do now is aim to stay in touch and push for a podium finish from the weekend. Thierry has encountered a few more issues today, in addition to his disadvantageous road position. It has definitely not been his rally but, holding sixth place, he is still chasing precious points. We have three cars inside the top-six, which is some consolation considering the problems everyone has encountered, and we want that to remain the case by Sunday afternoon. This rally is far from over.”

Sunday’s itinerary at a glance

Three stages will be held on Sunday morning, starting with the 24.32km Alfaro test.
Two runs through the familiar Las Minas stage will follow with the second acting as the Power Stage with additional driver points up for grabs.
All in all, just 46.46km of special stages remain with plenty still to play for in the opening gravel event of 2018.
Classification after Day Two

S. Ogier
J. Ingrassia
Ford Fiesta WRC

K. Meeke
P. Nagle
Citroën C3 WRC

D. Sordo
C. del Barrio
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

A. Mikkelsen
A. Jæger
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

S. Loeb
D. Elena
Citroën C3 WRC

T. Neuville
N. Gilsoul
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Sat, 10 Mar 2018 - Rally México – Day One Report
Hyundai Motorsport holds an early lead at the end of the opening ten special stages of Rally México, the third round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
Spaniard Dani Sordo leads the pack with an advantage of 7.2s over Sébastien Loeb, having taken two stage wins on Friday
Andreas Mikkelsen is involved in a close fight for the top-five, while championship leader Thierry Neuville, opening the road on the Mexican gravel, battled through to seventh overall.

León, Mexico

March 9, 2018 – Hyundai Motorsport has completed its first full day of action at Rally México, the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), with Dani Sordo leading the overall classification by 7.2 seconds in the #6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC.

The Spaniard, alongside co-driver Carlos del Barrio, scored two stage wins to establish an advantage over the chasing field, led by nine-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb in his Citroën.

It was a tougher Friday for the two other Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crews of Andreas Mikkelsen/Anders Jæger and Thierry Neuville/Nicolas Gilsoul, as they completed the day in sixth and seventh positions respectively.

Following Thursday evening’s 2.53km Monster Street Stage in Guanajuato, which was won by Neuville, Friday’s itinerary took in a total of nine competitive stages. A repeated loop of Duarte-Derramadero (26.05km), El Chocolate (31.44km) and Ortega (17.23km) was separated by a short 1.11km León Street Stage (SS5) in the early afternoon. The day concluded with two timed runs around the 2.3km Autodromo de León bringing Friday’s stage action to a total of 155.15km.

Sweet like El Chocolate

For Sordo, making his second WRC appearance of 2018, the first run through El Chocolate delivered a sweet result with his first stage win of the season, a feat he immediately followed up in the subsequent Ortega stage.

As the first gravel event of the season, road position played a key role with an increasingly clear driving line emerging on the dusty stages benefitting the later runners. As championship leader, following his win in Sweden, the honour of being first on the road went to Neuville.

The Belgian did well to minimise the time loss but, in SS5, unforeseen over-consumption of fuel in his car and the high temperature resulted in a drop in fuel pressure and an ultimate loss of position before mid-day service. He then experienced power steering issues in the afternoon, further hampering his progress.

The hot Mexican conditions offered a stark contrast to the cold, ice and snow of Monte-Carlo and Sweden, while also presenting crews with important tyre strategy decisions.

Crew Notes: Sordo/Del Barrio (#6 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Two stage wins on Friday morning moved the Spaniards into the rally lead.
Mixed tyre choice in afternoon loop proved a risky strategy but they defended their position.

Sordo said: “I have been happy with our pace and rhythm today, particularly on the morning loop when we could really set some good times, making the most of our road position. To be leading the rally at the end of the opening day is a great feeling but we know it is very close and we will have a fight on our hands tomorrow. I have to say thanks to the whole team for their hard work. They have given us the perfect car. The stage wins on Friday morning were very nice but we knew the repeat loop would be tricky. We thought the soft tyres might be a bit on the limit but it was a risk that did not really pay off; we didn’t generate enough lateral grip. We have been quick in Mexico before so we hoped to be in the fight, and we will do all we can to remain in the podium battle.”

Crew Notes: Mikkelsen/Jæger (#4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Steady start to Rally México sees the Norwegians fighting Ogier for fifth.
Two two-three stage times on Friday shows potential for rest of the weekend.

Mikkelsen said: “We have tried to push as hard as we could today in the circumstances. I’ve been happy enough overall, but we know there is room for improvement. In the morning loop, our focus was on getting to grips with the car, and how to control it on the dusty mountain stages. In the afternoon, we opted for harder compound tyres, which felt very slippery at times. It was difficult to know where to push, and how hard, because you lose the line so easily. There were a few mistakes here and there but generally it’s been a solid first day. We’re involved in a close battle for the top-five, which gives us something to build on.”

Crew Notes: Neuville/Gilsoul (#5 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC)

Secured a stage win on the rally-opener during Thursday evening.
First on the road dictated pace with technical issues preventing improvements.

Neuville said: “Not the most positive day for us. Our motivation level was quite high even if we knew it would be difficult as first on the road. We did our best not to lose too much time on the morning loop. Before the start of the short SS5 we were in seventh overall. Unfortunately, we had an unforeseen over-consumption of fuel, which caused a loss of fuel pressure in the stage. We lost around 20 seconds and two positions. It was really disappointing. The afternoon didn’t really improve and we struggled again in SS8 (Ortega 2) with some power steering trouble losing another 40 seconds of time. Tomorrow will be another hard day but we’ll keep pushing to get the best that we can out of the weekend.”

Eye on the podium

Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “Today has been a day of mixed fortunes for our crews. It is great to see Dani out in front after a positive start to his rally. He made the most of his road position, managing himself well and taking two stage wins. He took a gamble on tyre choice in the afternoon, with a combination of hard and soft tyres, which didn’t really work, but he appears to be in good shape. Andreas has had a trouble-free day, but perhaps not with the confidence required to get the best out of himself and the car. For Thierry, we knew he’d have a disadvantage starting first on the road, but that was compounded with a few other issues. There was the fuel pressure problem just before lunchtime service and then in the 17km Ortega stage he lost the power steering. Road position will again be a key factor on Saturday with our crews both benefitting and being disadvantaged in equal measure. That’s just part of the rallying game.”

Saturday’s itinerary at a glance

Nine stages will be contested on Saturday, covering a total stage distance of 140.35km.
A repeat loop of the 30.97km Guanajuatito, 26.37km Otates and popular 9.98km El Brinco stages will be followed by two more runs around the short 2.3km Super Special at the Autodromo de León.
The day will conclude with a repeat of the street stage in León, the shortest stage of the rally at just 1.11km, held in the evening.

Classification after Day One

D. Sordo
C. del Barrio
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

S. Loeb
D. Elena
Citroën C3 WRC

O. Tänak
M. Järveoja
Toyota Yaris WRC

K. Meeke
P. Nagle
Citroën C3 WRC

S. Ogier
J. Ingrassia
Ford Fiesta WRC

A. Mikkelsen
A. Jæger
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC

T. Neuville
N. Gilsoul
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Wed, 7 Mar 2018 - Cox embraces international rallycross opportunity

Kiwi rally driver Sloan Cox, of Rotorua, has been accepted into the highly-regarded RX Academy in Finland, providing the 26-year-old with an exciting opportunity to build an international career in the growing motorsport of rallycross.

The RX Academy is the starting point for many rallycross competitors in Europe and the world, and offers competitors professional coaching with driving, mental and physical fitness, and media and PR.

Cox will be one of 12 academy participants who benefit from the coaching while contesting a five-round academy season in identical, factory-built Renault Clio RS RX race cars. Following a three-day training camp in April, the academy season starts on 6 May in Sweden and has a big prize up for grabs for the winner – a fully-funded drive in five European races in the RX2 International Series or a full season in the FIA European Rallycross Championship for Super1600.

The two-time New Zealand Junior Rally Champion is foregoing what would have been his ninth season in the New Zealand Rally Championship to become the first New Zealander to tackle rallycross at an international level.

Cox says he’s always loved putting on a show and, being a stadium-based form of motorsport with huge spectator appeal, rallycross is a form of motorsport he really enjoys. He has contested and won all three national-level rallycross events held in New Zealand in recent years (the 2016 New Zealand International Rallycross event at Baypark, and the two National Rally X Series events run by New Zealand Xtreme Motorsport Series/D1NZ this year).

“While I have only contested these three New Zealand rallycross events, I really enjoy the mixed surfaces of a rallycross event and racing closely against other drivers,” says Cox who was one of the first to enter all three New Zealand rallycross events as soon as they were announced. “I’ve really enjoyed competing in and helping to develop the sport so far in New Zealand. I’d love to see it expand here.”

Cox hopes his age and experience with rallying, hillclimbs and rallycross will be an advantage at the RX Academy.

“The experience levels amongst the drivers in the academy will be very mixed. European drivers are known for being quick from a young age but I’m hoping that my age and long history in rallying will work to my advantage. The main aim for me in the academy is to learn as much as I can as I convert to rallycross, and also to build relationships and contacts with teams in European rallycross. We are definitely going there to be competitive and try and win but for us, building the contacts is one of the most important parts.”

The opportunity to attend the 2018 RX Academy came about quickly, with Cox having heard relatively recently that he’d been accepted. Since then, his focus has been on preparing himself for the intense competition ahead and securing the funding for the €45,000 programme.

Among his preparation Cox had the chance to spend more time on tarmac on a private race track in the same sort of turbo-charged Renault used in the RX Academy.

Cox says: “I approached a very close childhood friend who works at the track as I had previously been there and knew there was a Renault Sport Clio RS among the cars there. I asked if there was an opportunity for me to drive the car on the private test track as it would be a massive learning curve for me to drive the same car as I will be racing overseas. I would like to thank the owner as I know he doesn't allow this often and it was a very special opportunity for me.

“The car was very different to what I am used to driving but still a very awesome factory-built race car. I learnt a lot about the different characteristics of driving a front wheel 2WD compared to a 4WD, so it was an invaluable opportunity ahead of the academy camp in April.”

Cox’s goal is to take his career international, joining fellow Kiwis Hayden Paddon and Dave Holder in flying the flag for New Zealanders competing in rally-oriented motorsport disciplines overseas. “We are definitely doing this for the international opportunities and working toward making this a long-term career in Europe.”

The sacrifice is his NZRC campaign.

“This year I won't be competing in the NZRC but I hope one day I will be back as I love rallying in New Zealand. It’s such a beautiful place to rally and I’d love to bring international drivers over to experience it and grow our rallying scene. Our team was definitely looking into getting a new car for the NZRC season but before we made that commitment, we looked around and found this opportunity which for me. We decided was a better move for my racing career, so we’re going all out to make the most of it.”

Cox’s 2018 rallycross campaign is supported by Taslo Engineering, AJ’s Emporium, Driveline Automotive, Signedge and Teng Tools. Follow the news and action on Facebook: Cox Motorsport or RX Academy. ENDS/

Tue, 6 Mar 2018 - Mainland Rally Series has new major Supporter, MRF Tyres.

The Mainland Rally Series has a new title sponsor for 2018 with tyre giant MRF Tyres taking over from Stadium Finance, we would like to thank Stadium Finance for their support over the years and the amazing job they did promoting the series.

“We are absolutely happy to support and promote Mainland Rally Series in South Island. The quality of competition is very high, the promoters and organisers are super enthusiastic which made it easy to take the decision to support and promote”, said Vivek Ponnusamy, CEO of Mentor Tyres, Importer of MRF Tyres for New Zealand.

“Having Palmside NZ as our rally tyre dealer in Christchurch, South Island will help immensely to provide valuable support, best customer service and on time delivery “ said Vivek.

The Seven round series will be known as the “MRF Tyres Mainland Rally Series” and MA Media will be providing coverage for all rounds similar to 2017, we hope to cover a range of competitors over the season.

The MRF Tyres Mainland Rally Series kicks off on the 17th March in Greymouth on the West Coast with the popular event that draws good entries, the roads are fast and smooth and are a good place to start the season, the next 6 rounds are in Otago, Christchurch, Timaru, Catlins, Nelson and the final in Hanmer Springs in September.

The series is very popular with competitors from club up to top level as it has an excellent following and is always good competition, results can be found on or follow the MRF Tyres Mainland facebook page.

Any enquires contact MRF Tyres Mainland Rally Series 022 0490884

Recent Results
1New ZealandMatt Summerfield59:43.7
2New ZealandDarren Galbraith+4.5
3New ZealandJeff Judd+39.4
4New ZealandBrad Harris+43.2
5New ZealandJosh Marston+1:01.5
6New ZealandDavid Quantock+1:33.0
7New ZealandRichard Bateman+1:35.6
8New ZealandMarcus Van Klink+2:10.4
9New ZealandGraham Ferguson+2:25.5
10New ZealandRegan Ross+2:36.4
11New ZealandBrendon Hart+2:37.8
12New ZealandJohn Giltrap+3:00.4
13New ZealandDeane Buist+3:02.8
14New ZealandJohn Silcock+3:51.3
15New ZealandSean Haggerty+3:51.6
16New ZealandMatt Wright+4:43.9
17New ZealandDarryl Campbell+4:58.1
18New ZealandPeter Scharmach+5:03.1
19New ZealandDylan Cameron+5:06.2
20New ZealandAshton Wood+5:30.5
21New ZealandRay Wilson+5:35.6
22New ZealandMark MacDonald+5:53.1
23New ZealandStewart Thorp+6:02.1
24New ZealandAndrew Sim+6:31.0
25New ZealandJim McDonald+6:36.4
26New ZealandLloyd Owen+6:42.0
27New ZealandBrent Rawstron+6:44.4
28New ZealandJussara Kokshoorn+6:55.9
29New ZealandNick Marston+7:35.3
30New ZealandDavid Birkett+7:53.9
31New ZealandMike Sheehan+8:06.2
32New ZealandDavid Taylor+8:11.3
33New ZealandAlastair McLean+9:31.6
34New ZealandAlec Doig+10:02.3
35New ZealandEric Clark+10:39.9
36New ZealandEddie Gray+11:00.4
37New ZealandRyan Blacktopp+11:52.1
38New ZealandGraham Wilson+12:27.6
39New ZealandPhil Collins+13:45.9
39New ZealandJohn Simpson+13:45.9
41New ZealandGraeme Coey+13:48.7
42New ZealandJonathan Taylor+13:58.0
43New ZealandRobbie Stokes+14:23.6
44New ZealandRichard Richards+14:36.4
45New ZealandShane Thornley+15:07.6
46New ZealandBrendan Wadsworth+18:01.7
47New ZealandCraig Cox+18:50.0
48New ZealandRussell Burgess+52:22.1
1FranceSebastien Ogier3:54:08.0
2SpainDani Sordo+1:03.6
3United KingdomKris Meeke+1:19.2
4NorwayAndreas Mikkelsen+1:38.4
5FranceSebastien Loeb+2:24.6
6BelgiumThierry Neuville+9:03.0
7SwedenPontus Tidemand+10:24.7
8FinlandJari-Matti Latvala+15:37.1
9United KingdomGus Greensmith+17:09.3
10ChilePedro Heller+24:18.1
11FinlandEsapekka Lappi+30:57.8
12BoliviaMarco Bulacia Wilkinson+32:10.6
13FinlandTeemu Suninen+33:06.3
14EstoniaOtt Tanak+1:02:42.8
15MexicoFrancisco Name+1:08:53.9
16FinlandKalle Rovanpera+1:13:18.8
17MexicoJulian Jaramillo Salazar+1:21:08.3
18MexicoOscar Uribe Balsa+1:21:46.9
19FinlandJari Huttunen+1:30:38.5
20MexicoRicardo Triviño+1:35:52.1
21CanadaJason Bailey+1:45:56.5
22SpainNil Solans Baldo+1:58:24.8
23United KingdomTom Williams+2:51:19.5
Coming Soon
13 days to go
2018 Points
1FranceSébastien Ogier56
2BelgiumThierry Neuville52
3NorwayAndreas Mikkelsen35
4United KingdomKris Meeke32
5FinlandJari-Matti Latvala31
6EstoniaOtt Tänak26
7FinlandEsapekka Lappi23
8IrelandCraig Breen20
9New ZealandDani Sordo18
10New ZealandHayden Paddon10
11United KingdomElfyn Evans9
12FranceBryan Bouffier4
13Czech RepublicJan Kopecký1
1Shane Van Gisbergen300
2David Reynolds258
3James Courtney240
4Chaz Mostert216
5Scott McLaughlin207
6Garth Tander186
7Craig Lowndes180
8Mark Winterbottom177
9Cameron Waters171
10Scott Pye168
11Will Davison159
12Michael Caruso147
13Tim Slade138
14Nick Percat132
15Anton de Pasquale102
15Simona De Silvesta102
15Lee Holdsworth102
15Jamie Whincup102
19Rick Kelly99
19Fabian Coulthard99