Tauranga's David Holder didn't place at last weekend's International Rally of Whangarei – but he's taken away some positives from the Hyundai i20 AP4+ rally car.
David has just completed racing the car in the Whangarei rally and the Otago Rally on April 8-9 as part of Hyundai NZ's rally team in the 2017 New Zealand Rally Championship.
The team will contest all six championship rounds with David, and now up-and-coming driver Job Quantocksharing the steering wheel with World Rally champion and fellow Kiwi, Hayden Paddon.
And while he couldn't finish last weekend's race due to a damaged cambelt, David says he continued to learn and improve during the second of his two drives in the Hyundai NZ Rally Team.
“At the outset of Saturday, it was nice to win the opening stage,” says David, who competes with Hamilton's Jason Farmer as his co-driver and took a well-deserved win at the opening New Zealand Rally Championship event in Otago earlier in April.
The pair won five stages during Saturday's stages in Whangarei as heavy rain added challenges for the whole field.
“Our game plan was consistency,” says David. “With the weather, we knew there'd be carnage, and then for a random stone hit the power steering line in special stage five, I thought to myself: ‘Rallying has lots of challenges, let's just get through the next stage'.
“Even though we lost about a minute, I was stoked to get through the stage without getting passed by the competitor behind me.
“The teamwork was so smooth during service and the car was back to 100 per cent when we headed back out for the afternoon, so we were keen to claw back some time.”
But a strong finish wasn't to be, when a damaged cambelt meant David and Jason had to retire on their way to the final stage.
The team is run by Paddon Rallysport with Hayden co-manager alongside his Wanaka-based father Chris Paddon.
Chris says the unexpected failure was hugely disappointing for the whole team after winning five of the day's eight stages and being within 17 seconds of rally leader Matt Summerfield after the previous stage.
“Dave was going really well, getting more and more comfortable in the car with every kilometre,” says Chris.
“We clearly had the superior car, but it's just one of those things and once a cambelt goes, there's too much to repair overnight. The i20 AP4 will be back in top form for Rally Canterbury when we'll have young Job Quantock behind the wheel.”
David says he's grateful for the opportunity to contest the Otago and Whangarei rallies in the Hyundai AP4+ rally car.
“The calibre of our crew and the whole team's professionalism has lifted my game. Normally I'd being trying to manage lots of things myself, so to focus on my driving has been fantastic. “I've learnt more about tyre choices, about car set-up, and much more.”
David says his entire focus has been doing the best possible job for Paddon Rallysport and Hyundai NZ during the two events.
“It wasn't a priority until now to think about what Jase and I will do next. We're having a debrief to work out where to from here.”