NZ Performance Car - - Contents -

PODIUM FOR YOUNG Kiwi rally driver Mike Young is stoked to have been given the op­por­tu­nity to test and de­velop the Cusco team’s new four-wheel-drive Toy­ota Vitz in the FIA Asia-Pa­cific Rally Cham­pi­onship (APRC) and has man­aged to claim a podium at the third round in Malaysia.

The AP4 Toy­ota proved to be a weapon right from the first stage of 2018. Mike ex­plained: “In New Zealand, we were sec­ond fastest in shake­down, and on the first three stages [were] only beaten by Hay­den Pad­don, who is a World Rally Cham­pi­onship [WRC] driver. This showed [us] that we were fast and the car was fast, too.”

A me­chan­i­cal on stage five meant that the car had to re­tire, although Mike and the team were en­cour­aged by its po­ten­tial and shipped the Toy­ota to the next event in Can­berra, Aus­tralia. There, the goal was just to fin­ish the race, with Mike win­ning a cou­ple of stages in the APRC cat­e­gory, but they were pipped 10km from the fin­ish with a clutch fail­ure. How­ever, luck would change for the team in Malaysia. With a fresh clutch, im­proved sus­pen­sion, and cool­ing for the Lexus two-litre, Young and co-driver Mal­colm Read were able to re­ward the team with a podium fin­ish.

“Malaysia was a great per­for­mance. We won many stages, and we were able to match the team’s R5 Skoda. I worked hard on the fit­ness and prepa­ra­tion be­fore the rally, and it paid off with our first fin­ish of the year and sec­ond over­all,” Mike said.

Rally Hokkaido in Ja­pan — tak­ing place as this is writ­ten, 14–16 Septem­ber — is the next event on the APRC cal­en­dar. It is also Cusco’s home rally. In prepa­ra­tion for the event, the team has taken the op­por­tu­nity to re­turn the Toy­ota Vitz to its Gunma-based work­shops and give it a ma­jor re­build. They planned to spend two days test­ing prior to the event.

This year will mark Mike’s eighth time over the start ramp at the rally. In 2011, while lead­ing the APRC ju­nior cham­pi­onship, he crashed at the Riku­betsu wa­ter splash — along­side six other driv­ers. He fin­ished sec­ond in 2015 and third in 2016, but has never stood on top of the podium.

“This year, I re­ally want to show the po­ten­tial of the Cusco TRD Vitz. We are at the stage now where I think we can get a good re­sult and per­for­mance. I’m not say­ing I’ll go flat out, but I def­i­nitely want to do well for my­self, my team Cusco Rac­ing, and TRD. It’s their home event, and an im­por­tant rally for them,” Mike told us.

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