Debut for Campbell’s Ford Fiesta AP4
Phil Campbell’s two-year dream for a Ford AP4 car was finally realised over the weekend as he drove the first competitive miles in his new car at the Pirongia West Rally Sprint.
Campbell piloted the new car to second place in a drama-free day of racing.
“It was good,” the former Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship runner-up said. “We drove the car for the first time on Saturday at TECT Park in Tauranga and learned a little about it.
“Yesterday was the first proper event in it. It was good – did what we needed to do and we ran second for the day.
“We have done about 150km at speed now and we haven’t had to put a spanner on it.”
The debut has been a long time coming. Campbell first had the idea of getting an AP4 car two years ago as he saw the potential in reigning champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s Mazda.
“As soon as we saw Andrew’s yellow one out there doing what it was meant to and he was getting faster and faster in it,” Campbell explained. “We thought if we were serious about rallying we needed to make that next step and have what everyone else was having at the front of the field.
Building a Ford was always the preferred option for Campbell, who has a history with blue oval cars stemming from his 2WD days.
“We had a pretty good run in our Fiesta in the earlier years and the Ford dealership here in Tauranga – Ultimate Motor Group – has always been really good to us,” he said. “If we could build a Ford they would continue to keep helping us out.
“I think the Fiesta is one of the best looking R5 cars running around so we wanted to make ours look a little bit like them.”
The build process was a long, drawn-out affair with Campbell insisting on doing things right, even if they took longer to complete rather than rushing the job.
“It probably did take longer than we were expecting and it probably cost a bit more than we hoped it would at the start.
“We wanted to take the time and make sure it was right – we didn’t want to go out there with a car that was half done and have issues every time we take it out.
“It started with Andrew Hawkeswood and Force Motorsport – they did all the AP4 shell types and bits and pieces. PF Automotive in Tauranga have done the majority of it with a bit done at Force Automotive in Tauranga as well. Jack Williamson has done all the wiring in it – it has some pretty high tech wiring.”
Campbell’s Ford Fiesta AP4 will make its NZRC debut at next month’s Lone Star Rally Canterbury.
“We have entered for that – we don’t have any really high expectations or anything like that,” Campbell explained. “It is all about going out there and doing some miles and learning more about the car.
“I think that will be the aim for all of the remaining rallies this year and then have a proper crack next year.”
And his long-term goals are a little more ambitious.
“I think the car is definitely as good as any other car in New Zealand so I don’t think there will be any issues there.
“There is no reason why we can’t be right at the front of the field – that will be our goal next year – to be on the podium and winning rallies and obviously we would like to win the championship.”
The 2018 New Zealand Rally Championship is proudly supported by Brian Green Property Group, Gull New Zealand, Dunlop New Zealand, Hella New Zealand and Stadium Finance