Time for a tarmac rally?

David Holder supports a tarmac rally joining the NZRC calendar. Photo / Geoff Ridder

Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship winner David Holder has called for a tarmac rally to be added to the championship in the coming years.

Holder, the 2016 national champion, is competing in the Junior World Rally Championship this year and has found he has a massive disadvantage compared to his European rivals – he hasn’t competed on tarmac before.

“I definitely think it is a worthwhile addition to the New Zealand championship,” Holder said.

“To be honest it is a hard one because not everyone is aiming to go overseas. Some people want to stay within the little bubble of enjoying gravel.

“What I have learned this year overseas is that just having to tackle so many different surfaces and challenges it makes you develop as a driver a lot quicker.

“Aside from the fact it is going to help people like me and Hayden [Paddon] transition overseas the current crop of drivers here will benefit a lot more from getting better all-round if they are doing a tarmac event.

“And it throws a bit of a cat among the pigeons in terms of who might be quick on gravel might not be as fast on tarmac.

“I don’t expect them to change it just for someone like me but I would definitely be keen for them to do so because I have had some challenges around not having experience on those surfaces this year.

“It would be fantastic for the championship to have it.”

The NZRC has a good mix of events at present with the jumps at Rally Otago, the high-cambered roads of Rally Whangarei, the forestry of Rally Canterbury, the extremely fast and cold Rally South Canterbury, the tight and twisty roads of Coromandel and the coastal rally at Raglan featuring on this year’s calendar.

But while each event has its own unique traits Holder feels a tarmac event would make a nice contrast for the championship.

“I think there are changes across the events but nothing drastic but a tarmac one would throw in something quite drastic,” Holder explained.

“When you go overseas each event is much, much different to what we see in New Zealand because they are all so smooth.”

Cost is a massive factor in any tarmac event joining the championship. Teams would naturally want to set their cars up differently for a tarmac rally and would look to change the tyres, brakes and suspension racking up the bills.

But Holder thinks an easy way to get a tarmac event going would be to legislate to slowly move across each season.

“There are obviously a number of ways you can do it. Maybe they could say you have to use your same dampeners but springs are free or something like that so it doesn’t get too carried away at the beginning.

“It would be a progressive type thing – you want to slowly bring it in and it becomes an iconic event.

“Maybe eventually we get to two or three tarmac events a year.”

With it getting harder and harder to gain access to gravel roads eventually rallying is going to need to embrace tarmac. Holder thinks that time is now.

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


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