5min With Historic’s Champ – Dave Neill

So… another year and another championship for the dynamic duo of Marcus and Dave. We thought, we’ve all heard about Klinky, so why not get another side and hear from the guy that controls the car, the dude with the notes… step up MR DAVE NEILL.

... looks like Marcus has seen a BDA, while Dave is all business.

… looks like Marcus has seen a BDA, while Dave is all business.

First up lets get a little personal… what does Dave do, outside of rallying? Darts… Dancing… Bowls?
Believe it or not but I do have a full time job, Outside of that  I’m kept  busy working on odd jobs around our 11 acre lifestyle block, I also enjoy quiet family time and watching our daughters doing their sporting activities. Other interests  include playing social golf, squash and I love watching the World Darts series on Sky TV and recently live in Auckland, 180…….

Looking back… a few years now, but how did you get into rallying?
I always had a passion for it and loved watching rallying live and on TV, I then got an opportunity to co-drive for Les Summerfield at the Westland Rally in his WRX, after that I caught the Rally bug and was hooked.

What inspired you to become a codriver, as it’s the hardest job in a car?
Good question, heaps of people think I’m mad, As mentioned earlier once I had my first Rally I was hooked, then things rapidly progressed from there It is a tough job, but I try not to over think it, Keep the processes simple and aim to do your best and hopefully that should be good enough for the Driver and Team to get the rewards.

So you’ve been rallying for a few years and a couple of titles under your belt, but how did the partnership with Marcus come about?
Having won two NZRC titles with Matt Summerfield, I guess it was what will be the next challenge? Klinky asked me if I was keen for a change and after some consideration I said yes and joined his Team , I guess my delayed response to Marcus was around my nervousness how Klinky was tending to park cars on their roof at the time, 6 seasons on and 4 NZRC titles later things are going good.

We have to ask, but do you have you any inspirations to drive at some stage?
Would have loved to had a skid in my own car at some stage, but the budget has never allowed for that, hence I’ve stuck with my role as a co-driver

It seems like ages to be honest, but how many years have you two been together in the car?
This is our sixth season together, like any other motorsport team we have had our fair share of highs and lows but it’s been awesome to claim four National Tiles with Marcus.

We all know everyone has some special “things” or habits to get you ready before an event, do you? Or do you just have to manage the guy with the wheel?
I’m very organised and defiantly have things sorted well before we jump in the car on race day, Lots of planning and prep before an event this also includes looking at old footage, notes, maps etc As for managing the Driver, well that’s a full time job, it’s just as well he pays me the big bucks as I’m worth every cent, haha

On the startline, 1min to go, what’s going on the in the car, till 3,2,1 Go!
Not a lot different to the other Teams, game faces on and getting sorted for our roles, Road book sorted, Time card sorted, Camera on, Diff pump on, on-board fire extinguisher on, 30 sec, 20 sec go well Roota aka Klinky, 10sec, 5,4,3,2,1GO…. 6R 180 5L>3+In………………….

2016 was another Historic’s title, so has Marcus said you can drive the RX7 at Coro on the last Tarmac stages… as you already have the title?
I like your thinking!, I hadn’t thought about that, Nah better not, I wouldn’t want to upstage Klinky by doing a faster stage time he might get upset, also truth be known I’d be too scared to bend it with the owner sitting next to me, hahaha

At Gisborne, you guys got “beached as”, what happened? We’ve heard the drivers take on it, what’s yours?
Pretty much as Klinky said, Too hot into the left hander, slipping wide and getting beached as Bro on the bank and the Farmers fence, even though we decided to park up an admire the scenery only 1.5kms into SS1 we both really enjoyed the experience and the opportunity to run three on the road,  just as well it was our drop round eh! Ps the 1.5kms of notes were mint, so the driver has put his hand up to claim this one, haha

You guys have a chance for an overall top 3 this year, will we see an all out attack at Coromandel, or will you guys sit back and see what the others do?
Klinky only knows one way, and that is full out attack! So Coromandel won’t be any different I would guess, Would be awesome to claim an overall Top 3 but get the job done first and what will be, will be!

You’ve had a some classic battles over the years with the BDA’s, what’s been your highlight and why?
Always a great battle with the BDA boys, Klinky and I have had many good battles and challenges over the years especially at Rally Otago and Wairarapa, I think everyone tends to push to the limit at these events due to the extra incentive of the Classic Trophies and Titles.

One event that does stand out for me was the 2013 Daybreaker Rally, Pre event favourites Deane Buist and the late Andrew Bulman were predicated to smoke us due to Klinky and I never previously doing the event and everyone saying the roads wouldn’t suit the RX7, however after SS1 they may have been rethinking their predictions as Klinky was up by 17secs, after 9 tough stages and a great days battle we managed to take victory by 27secs, so it was great to get a victory over a 2wd legend and a great sparring partner of Klinkys.

Its a team effort, but whos been the biggest influence in 2016 for the Universal Plumbing RX7’s speed?
Klinky and I are lucky enough to have a superb Team/Crew behind us, they do an amazing job to provide us a car that’s always ready to be pushed to the limits, Even when the pressure is on the boys step up to ensure things are sorted Marcus and I have also been working hard on fine tuning our notes and these changes are certainly paying dividends for us with our overall increased speed/pace

Where to for 2017 for you and Klinky, a repeat or a new challenge?
2017 will see some changes and a new challenge for Team Klink, A new car is due for the 2017 season, I’m sure all will be revealed over the next few months. 2017 will also see us back in the RX7 for Classic Rally Otago so our fans can still hear the beast roaring through the Otago countryside, then it may come out for special events after that too Either way it will be another full on season with heaps of sideways action

Thanks a bunch Dave… we look forward to seeing you guys at the Mahindra Goldrush Rally of Coromandel.


About The Author


The New Zealand Rally Championship is this country’s premier nationwide rally championship. It attracts New Zealand’s best drivers to compete in numerous categories for the prestigious MotorSport New Zealand-sanctioned rally championship titles. In 2024, there are six NZRC rounds, each with a unique character reflecting the diverse regions – from Northland to Invercargill