Holder a step closer to WRC

For­mer na­tional cham­pion earns crack at Ju­nior WRC, just be­low world ral­ly­ing pin­na­cle

The New Zealand Herald - - RACING - Dale Budge

Kiwi rally driver David Holder has taken a big step to­wards em­u­lat­ing men­tor Hay­den Pad­don by se­cur­ing a drive in the Ju­nior World Rally Cham­pi­onship in 2018.

The 2016 New Zealand Rally Cham­pi­onship win­ner be­comes just the third Kiwi to con­test a full World Rally Cham­pi­onship af­ter the late Pos­sum Bourne and cur­rent Hyundai WRC driver Pad­don.

Holder is this week in Poland, where he will meet the M-Sport Ford out­fit and some of the other com­peti­tors he will be up against.

“It is a big step up, with the end goal of be­ing where Hay­den Pad­don is at,” Holder said. “There are plenty of steps to go — this is the first one — learn the ral­lies and do the twowheel drive cham­pi­onship next year, and then progress from there.”

The Ju­nior World Cham­pi­onship is seen as a step­ping stone to the WRC and is held over five ral­lies.

“Ev­ery­one is run­ning in an R2 Fi­esta — a 1-litre, turbo, two-wheel drive car,” Holder ex­plained. “Ev­ery­one is in the same thing, run by the same team, which is M-Sport, so it all comes down to the driv­ers and what they can do on the se­lected events.

“The idea of the cham­pi­onship is a broad ar­ray of ral­lies to test the driv­ers — we start with Swe­den, which is snow, then Cor­sica, which is tar­mac, be­fore three gravel ral­lies. It will be a big learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence while try­ing to be com­pet­i­tive as well.”

While Holder’s pri­mary goals will be to gain ex­pe­ri­ence, there is also a huge re­ward for the driver who wins the ti­tle: a new Ford Fi­esta R5, a cat­e­gory 2 world rally car, plus free en­try fees, fuel and 200 tyres for the class in 2019. “I think it’s a two-fold goal for us,” Holder said. “To go there and do these rounds and com­pete over­seas for the first time is a huge un­der­tak­ing, so we want to go there and do a lot of learn­ing and test our­selves against these guys.

“But you can’t negate the fact that is a big prize on of­fer, so when it comes time to de­liver the goods later in the sea­son on the gravel events that we are a bit more fa­mil­iar with, we will be try­ing to put some points on the board.”

Sev­eral WRC driv­ers have con­tested this cat­e­gory: Se­bastien Loeb, Se­bastien Ogier and cur­rent M-Sport fac­tory driver El­fyn Evans all en­tered the elite level via this cham­pi­onship.

“It’s cer­tainly a big op­por­tu­nity for David,” Pad­don said. “The JWRC has al­ways been the step­ping stone to WRC. Be­ing with M-Sport is a good en­vi­ron­ment for him to learn. It’s very dif­fer­ent to the New Zealand Cham­pi­onship but I think David will adapt quite well to that.

“He’s a very ca­pa­ble driver, he looks af­ter the car, he’s very smooth, lis­tens to all the ad­vice he’s given and is al­ways will­ing to learn.

“He has a great op­por­tu­nity and I think he will make the most of it.”

The cost of en­ter­ing the cham­pi­onship is sig­nif­i­cant but Holder is con­fi­dent he has the bud­get to do it. Ve­hi­cle In­spec­tion NZ are sup­port­ing him but he’s look­ing for more spon­sors to make the dream hap­pen.

“It comes with a price tag of $240,000 for the ar­rive-and-drive aspect of it and then you need to get your­self over there and ac­com­mo­da­tion and all that. The pack­age is worth around $320,000 to do the cham­pi­onship, which is a lot of money. We’ve got a wee bit of work to do on the bud­get aspect of it but we’re just fo­cus­ing on one step at a time and mak­ing sure we’re there at the start line in Fe­bru­ary.”

David Holder is seek­ing more spon­sors to help him foot the es­ti­mated $320,000 bill to con­test the JWRC.

David Holder

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