5min with the CHAMP

Holder Racing Team celebrate @ Gisborne [img G.Ridder]

Holder Racing Team celebrate @ Gisborne [img G.Ridder]

After Canterbury, and the little excursion into the Christmas Trees, was there any extra pressure for the team coming into Gisborne?
I’d be lying if I denied it… so yes there was pressure there. Ultimately we needed to score a good result at Gisborne to keep the championship hopes alive, so I was feeling a bit anxious for sure. Although nerves are something I traditionally get a lot of until the first stage has started.

So what was the plan coming into Gisborne, did you make a decision to go for it or was it a bit unexpected to be so far in front after 2 stages?
In the week prior to Gisborne Jase and I talked about what our game plan should be, i.e. do we go out and drive conservatively or go guns blazing etc. As it turned out our media man, Blair Bartels decided for us. Upon seeking his ‘expert’ advice and posing the question to him he said ‘I think you need to go out there and win it’…. you called it Blair!!

I also got a game plan message the night before the event from Hayden. His advice was to focus on taking time out of Emma on stage one, to make her play catch up (as she was our main championship rival). After that his thoughts were not to enter overall battles, but rather stick to keeping Emma behind us.

That said we never expected the times to be what they were after the first stage, it absolutely didn’t feel close to the best drive I’ve driven. The added intercom issues we experienced actually left me feeling pretty gutted at the finish control…. let’s say I was pleasantly surprised haha

It’s been a few days, back to work, rally weekends over, so how are you feeling three days after winning… has the champagne stopped?
Yea I’m not sure if things have sunken in properly for me just yet! The whole team is obviously on a huge high which is great to see, and I’ve had a lot of people calling me up with some pretty big personal statements. To be honest though my response is a bit like ‘jee’s I haven’t won a WRC event, let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves”.

But ‘grateful’ is probably the best word I could use to describe my feeling right now, because without the help of soooo many supporters and sponsors over the last few years I’d be nowhere, so I’m grateful for their belief in me!

You and your team are the 2016 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Champions, so do people look at you differently in the street now?
Haha people have always looked at me differently in the street but for other reasons…. normally when they see me duck for doorways!

Jack the Bear was a common companion in 2015, so have you now finally earnt the right to not ever be in the beer suit again?
Ahhh the bear suit, you know what I actually enjoy being in it (besides the heat) …. you can literally become the personality you want because no one ever knows who ‘Jack the bear” actually is…. that said it’s a bit short for me so perhaps it’s not as effective as I think.

This is a bit of a personal one… but does Adina call you champ now?
Adina (my wife) calls me a lot of things but champ generally isn’t usually included…. although bringing the car home straight, with a rally win to boot, means #happywifehappylife

Next up is the Mahindra Goldrush Rally Coromandel, so what are the plans for Coromandel, is it Jason’s turn to drive now?
You know what I actually tried to make Jase drive at the super special stage in Coromandel last year. He refused! I think I might need to revisit the conversation!

Coro isn’t so straight forward for us, we’ve still got the dreaded budget problems meaning it’s actually a big ask for us to be there…. especially when it’s an event that we don’t technically need to go to (with the championship wrapped up). Although we’ve got some cool promotion plans lined up with the team at Stadium Finance that we are really keen to execute so I’m pretty committed to making something work to get us there…. a little bit of the old ‘faith’ will make things happen for us.

And yup the plan is fairly straight forward. Promote the heck out of our sponsors, enjoy ourselves and obviously we are there for the win to finish on a high ?

[img G.Ridder]

[img G.Ridder]

What do you credit the most for the pace you have shown this year, was it mental preparation, changes in the car or just you were hungry for the title?
There’s actually a real mix of things…. firstly, and foremost yes mentally I’ve definitely made some improvements on previous years, still a long way to go in this area though, as personally I think its 90% of what we do so when you think of it that way it should really receive 90% or the training too…. a work in progress!

Car setup is pretty much identical to last year and although it seems to be weighing in as one of the lighter cars, we honestly didn’t do anything else to make it lighter since last season.

Another big part of our success this year is via Mike at Force Automotive. He does a faultless job preparing the car for events, meaning we continue to achieve 100% mechanical reliability even after 3 years in the championship…. not only that he works around my budget trying his best to ‘life’ parts constantly monitoring the wear etc. to get the reliability just right. It might sound like a shameless plug but that’s exactly what it is, the results speak for themselves.

Lastly my ‘on event’ crew are amazing, they make my life so simple at rallies and will literally do anything I ask of them, as again they have a huge belief in me which is great.

OK, so in the car, last stage, you fly past the finish boards… did you guys hi-five after the last stage and give a good yell?
Yea we actually went for more of a handhold, perhaps you could say an ’embrace high five’ to sound a little more masculine. We’re big on the praying at events too, so a small acknowledgement to the big man came from both of us.

Rallying is a huge team effort, but who’s been the biggest influence in 2016?
Without a doubt the biggest influence is having Jase in the co-driver’s seat. Not a lot of people appreciate just how much work goes on behind the scenes to compete at this level, more so I’ll put it out there and say I don’t think there’s a co-driver in the country who’s more committed to the cause than Jase. He’s constantly asking for jobs/ things he can help organise…. not only that when possible he comes over and helps out with car prep too. He really really deserves this championship, and after 20 odd years of him co-driving I’m stoked I was the one that got to do it with him!

Finally, the big question [no, not will you marry us…] where to for 2017, a repeat?
That’s the big question! We are getting straight into working on next year’s plans now, and it’s great having our CV looking a bit more impressive too. We really need to keep moving forward as I’m not getting any younger…that and my wife’s been hanging around friend’s babies lately and that’s a dangerous mix!

Plan is try do something internationally next year, most probably in the Asia Pacific region, what that is exactly, God literally only knows at the moment so we need to start making some relationships with the right people.

The NZ championship is also a priority for 2017, I need all the seat time I can get as I certainly fit into the ‘inexperienced’ category. NZ champion or not there’s a lot to learn yet! Provided we contest a full championship the aim is obviously to defend our title, and we’d like very much to do that in one of the new generation AP4 cars…. sequential box! #bucketlist

A big thanks to everyone who made this possible, it’s been a massive effort from all involved… I’ve got the easy job that’s for sure (and the fun one) … so thanks to M. TECH EVO’S, Endless Brakes New Zealand, Vehicle Inspection New Zealand-VINZ, Amplified Customs | Customise Everything, Farmline Machinery, Motul New Zealand, MCA Suspension, Paramount Performance, Woodnet NZ, Monit Rally Computers, NZ Forest Leasing, Mt Wheel Alignment and Tom Allen Panel Beaters

Thanks Dave, huge congratulations to you and Jase and the wider Holder Brothers Racing team, and your sponsors. It’s a big job to win the championship as its getting more and more competitive, so savor the moment!!


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