O’Rourke heads north to chase rookie title

Daph O'Rourke has enjoyed an impressive rookie season. Photo / Geoff Ridder

Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship newcomer Daph O’Rourke has committed to heading north for the next round in a couple of weeks.

The Canterbury-based youngster heads the rookie standings in this year’s championship and has entered Dayle ITM Goldrush Rally of Coromandel alongside co-driver Brianna Little.

O’Rourke, who has experience in circuit racing, has entered the championship for the first time in 2019 and has put together an impressive campaign. She secured a podium in Otago and a second one at her home event in Canterbury and lies second outright in the Gull Rally Challenge 2WD Championship as well – 28 points adrift of Andrew Gillies.

But it is her eight-point lead over Ben Thomasen in the Rookie standings that she’s most proud of.

“I can’t believe it but I am [leading] apparently,” O’Rourke said.

“We didn’t expect to be where we are in our first season. To be in this position it would be silly not to do [the last two rounds]. Even if nothing comes of it we still get to learn the roads and gain some experience.

“Lucky enough that we had a few guys help along the way and people really want to see us there so we have managed to put a package together and we will be there.”

O’Rourke said she won’t let her championship standings dictate how she drives in these last two events of the season.

She feels she isn’t yet fast enough to button off and protect a lead and she isn’t prepared to take unnecessary risks either.

“If we push too hard and end up on the side of the road because we’ve crashed well then I haven’t learned anything from this experience,” she said.

The roads at Dayle ITM Goldrush Rally of Coromandel will prove quite foreign for O’Rourke. The closest she has come to the highly cambered and tight, twisty roads on the peninsula was when she attended the event a couple of years ago as a supporter.

“I have actually been doing quite a bit of in-car study – sitting there and watching in-car just trying to learn the roads.

“I haven’t really done a huge amount of that – Hanmer was slow and quite twisty but these look very smooth roads.

“It is a new experience for me to learn.”

And regardless of results this year, O’Rourke is keen to continue her rallying journey into a second year in 2020.

“It is just about getting comfortable and pushing on. I am getting faster each rally.

“We all have the dream of wanting to make a career out of it – that is the goal. I have got a long way to go, a lot to learn and a lot of money to find.”

The 2019 New Zealand Rally Championship is proudly supported by Brian Green Property Group, Gull New Zealand, Dunlop New Zealand, HELLA New Zealand, Stadium Finance, Omega Rental Cars and Suzuki New Zealand.


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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