5 minutes with Klinky
Marcus van Klink has made a dream start to the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship for 2016, not only topping the Historic category standings but moving the Group B Mazda RX-7 into fifth outright, and with Hayden Paddon not contesting the last three rounds, will have fourth choice of road order at Rally Canterbury. We caught up with him on the season so far, and asked the big question, just how many arguments do he and co-driver Dave Neill get into while firing through the special stages?
NZRC: First things first congratulations on sitting fifth in the championship, and effectively fourth. What’s been the secret to success?
MvK: I think we’ve made some good notes this year and made some good changes in the notes which, with a long term co-driver in Dave, we’ve picked up on. We’re still learning but we’ve made some good changes this year. We know where we’ve been a bit slow in the previous years, mostly on the faster stuff, and the notes are a lot better. We’ve got a bit more speed, we’ve been battling with the car a bit but we’ve probably been a bit faster than normal.
NZRC: As you say, you’ve had a few battles with the car, especially the engine. How important has it been to keep on going through those problems?
MvK: It’s really important, the main thing is to finish the rally isn’t it? You have to be there at the end to finish it.
We certainly haven’t worried too much about that this year and have just gone out and gone as fast as we can, which has been good, it was a good battle with Jonesy (Anthony Jones) at Whangarei, probably our best battle yet, we had nothing to gain by beating him but it was a good bit of pressure for us. We don’t normally go that well under pressure, we normally break and crash, so that was quite good to keep the pace on without making a mistake.
I think the secret to success is to finish though, you can’t really afford to break down or go off the road, but then again you still have to be going ten-tenths.
NZRC: That unofficial battle for top two-wheel drive has really heated up this year. It really is on amongst the two-wheel drive guys isn’t it?
MvK: It is on and I think it gets faster every year, everyone seems to get faster and faster and everyone seems to lift their game every year which is great isn’t it? Soon the four-wheel drives will be struggling to catch us!!
I think if you are in the classics or not, when you are with that bunch of guys, whoever can drive a two-wheel drive the fastest gets the bragging rights really. At the end of the day, if you’ve got a six speed sequential gearbox or late model Ford engine, it doesn’t worry us and it doesn’t seem to worry anyone else in that group of guys either. You’ve still got to be able to drive the car at that sort of speed and we can all do it, so yeah, it’s probably the best battle it’s been in a long time.
NZRC: As you say, it’s a great group of people in that bunch. Obviously the competitive side is very important, but how important is the social side of the sport for you?
MvK: It’s good unless they beat you too often, then it gets a bit awkward!! Hey at the end of the day, if someone beats you in a stage you have to take your hat off to them because you know how hard you’ve been driving. Jonesy whipped us through a stage in Whangarei and I thought I was going pretty good, then he took 15 seconds out of me so credit where credit is due, but we got it back in the stage after! There’s always good bantering and if you weren’t in that group of guys, it might be a bit lonely.
NZRC: So now we come to your home event and you’re fourth choice in the road order draw. There was talk before Coromandel last year of stitching you up to run first on the road. Are you worried that might happen at Canterbury?
MvK: I don’t think Ben Hunt will want to be held up again by a slower car! Obviously we’re not as fast as those front four-wheel drive guys so it is a nuisance for the organisers to run it like that but we deserve to be there, it’s twice we’ve been up at that level, it will be interesting one way or the other.
NZRC: For this event, Regan Ross is back, John Silcock’s back, there’s Juddy (Jeff Judd) and Tony (Gosling), plus Max, Jonesy and Deane Buist (non-championship entry), it’s going to be all on isn’t it?
MvK: It is, unfortunately Canterbury would not be my favourite event in the championship, I don’t know why. Depending on the weather, the RX-7 can be a bit of a handful in the wet so hopefully it’ll be drier, but we’ve still had a reasonable run at Canterbury, except when we went off on the ice!
It’s a funny rally, different to any event we do all year, more forestry. If it’s dry it’s quite consistent, if it’s wet it can get quite treacherous, especially with the RX-7, in the wet it struggles to get its power down. In saying that, we’ve set some reasonable times in the wet. But a rally with Deane and Regan, they’re always fast at Canterbury, so that’ll be a good battle.
NZRC: You talk of ice, you’re a local man, do you think we will see any ice and snow?
MvK: No, I don’t think so, still might be a wee bit early. Hopefully! If it is I might just have to call it quits and come home for a cup of coffee!! Hopefully it’s not too bad, the weather up until now has been great a week and a half out, if it doesn’t rain too much it should stay reasonably dry, but it doesn’t take long to turn it into a slippery old rally.
NZRC: How do you approach it? You’ve got a good lead in the Historics, do you try to protect that or is it rally by rally?
MvK: It’s rally by rally really, rallying is such a cruel sport. Like I’ve done before and even like Ben’s (Hunt) done before, if you drive to finish you generally have a crap rally. At Coromandel two years ago that was exactly what I did and it was probably the worst rally I’ve ever driven. We got the result we wanted to, but it wasn’t a rewarding drive, let’s put it that way. In a way, it felt like a hollow victory. So the plan is to go do what we do every rally, do a couple of stages and review it, if someone’s walking away with the lead and we feel we can’t catch them we’ll let them go but if it’s here or there, we’ll push on. It normally goes “how does Deane do that?!”
NZRC: Yourself and Dave are a bit of a famous team now, particularly for your agruments we see on TV. Are they as frequent and as bad as we see, or is it hyped up for TV?
MvK: No, you catch the best on the in car. To be fair at Whangarei, he tried a new one out on me where he would only read the note out once and he was quite surprised it went really well! But to be fair to Dave, everyone thinks he is repeating the notes and he does, but it’s one of those cars, it’s very hard to hear in the car and things happen quite quickly, so it’s not that he doesn’t trust me, it’s making sure I’ve heard the call. You don’t hear that with the recorded microphone, it cuts a lot of the background noise, but it is a very noisy car to drive. But we’ve made some good changes this year, they seem to be paying off.
Thanks Marcus for your time.