From the Service Park – 2020 pre-season edition
With the 2020 season almost upon us the NZRC team take a look at the latest whisperings from around the traps.
Young in an AP4 car
Kiwi Mike Young looks likely test himself against the best of his compatriots in the same machinery when he makes a rare start in the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship this year. Asia Pacific Rally Championship regular Young is showing as an entry for Rally Otago in an Andrew Hawkeswood-prepared Mazda AP4 car alongside his already confirmed Rally Whangarei outing for the Cusco team.
Change of plans for Thomson
A sponsor withdrawal has unfortunately messed up talented youngster Dylan Thomson’s start to the season and forced him out of his Subaru for the time being.
Thomson impressed with some consistent drives last season but will revert back to his Ford Fiesta for Otago and Whangarei.
Co-driver shuffle as a result
Thomson’s change of plans has also forced a reshuffle with co-drivers. Kieran Anstis had been lined up to take over reading notes for Thomson this season, however our inside word suggests Amy Hudson will forgo driving duties in 2020 to occupy the co-drivers seat with Thomson.
No sign of Hawkeswood
It doesn’t seem likely we’ll see Andrew Hawkeswood competing much in the early stages of the 2020 season.
Apparently he’s been working furiously on cleaning up the farm for some reason.
Son Jack will be in for the whole campaign however. He hasn’t helped with the farm clean up though – instead he made more mess recently with a little mishap in a ute on the farm.
Star to finally compete in NZ?
Perhaps the more newsworthy flow-on from Thomson’s misfortune is the opportunity it might give to a well-known international guest driver.
Thomson will lease out his Subaru and an international star that has long been tipped to compete in New Zealand looks set to get behind the wheel. A cameo drive has come close to happening before but it finally looks like it will happen this time.
Watch out for fast R5 driver
There will be an influx of R5s coming to New Zealand this season and one of them is going to be piloted by a very fast 2WD competitor from the last few seasons.
The driver in question is trying to keep the news quiet (blame Rob Scott not this column!) but he is likely to have the Ford Fiesta R5 in New Zealand in the next few weeks and could give the championship a real shake once he’s had a few runs under his belt.
Much to the new owner’s pleasure, the car will come with a cup/bottle holder and space for a KFC bucket.
Regs out this week
NZRC AP4 and Group NZ regulations for the 2020 season are out this week.
It will make for some nice bedtime reading for interested parties.
Strong entries for cat 2
The FIA Group N 2WD championship looks like it will be a competitive one in 2020 with a strong group of entries expected before the season kicks off in Otago in April.
A good core of four-five talented youngsters are likely to mount full campaigns.
Another year, another co-driver idol
Dylan Turner’s co-driver idol will continue into a third season with a number of navigators in discussions to sit with him this season.
Malcolm Read, Paul Fallon, Rocky Hudson and the aforementioned Rob Scott have all been linked with Turner this year while NZRC team member Simon Bell has also recently spent some time in the Audi’s passenger seat.
Rumour has it that thanks to the new supermarket ban on plastic bags the interior of that Audi is now something of a technicolour concoction after Bell’s recent stint.
Congrats to that man Turner for his recent engagement to partner Renee.
After last year’s Rally Otago accommodation “misunderstanding” we suggest Renee sort out all wedding details, especially when it comes to picking the venue!
Strong shakes down new car
Veteran driver Dave Strong’s new car is going to be ready for the start of the season with the Honda Jazz getting a work-out in recent weeks.
Deane Buist spent some time behind the wheel recently in a testing session.
Videos to watch
Keep an eye out for a couple of videos that will make their way onto NZRC channels in the coming weeks.
A promotional video for the 2020 season should be a good watch while Krystal has been putting together a bloopers and funny moments video from the 2019 season.