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Holder and Farmer ready for gravel of Portugal Rally

Kiwi rally pairing Dave Holder and Jason Farmer head to the testing gravel stages of Rally de Portugal, starting 17 May, with the odds slightly more in their favour.

Holder and Farmer, from Mt Maunganui and Hamilton respectively, have always rallied on the gravel roads of New Zealand. With the first two 2018 FIA Junior World Rally Championship events run on snow and tarmac, they’ve been well out of their comfort zone. But rallying on gravel is something the pair are more familiar with and while they’re not taking it for granted – given the well-known challenges of Portugal’s often rocky, rutted special stages – it’s one less thing they have to learn while at the rally.

One of 14 JWRC entrants in Portugal, Holder says he’s not underestimating the challenges.

“We are aiming to finish, as we have for the first two events, but this time we’d like to finish in the top five of our class,” says Holder. “We think that’s realistic given that it’s another new rally for us, and everything that means in terms of doing a good job writing pace notes during recce. The others in our class are also at a different level compared to the level of competition we have in New Zealand.

“We’ve just got to relax and drive the rally, one day at a time. We’re back on the right surface now and with the experience gained in Sweden and Corsica, the stress levels of what goes on around the event get less each time.”

Earlier in May, Holder and Farmer made the most of the opportunity to drive a two-wheel-drive car at the International Rally of Whangarei, in New Zealand. The car, a Ford Fiesta R2, was similar enough to their JWRC-spec Ford Fiesta R2 EcoBoost rally car to offer Holder an excellent chance to work on developing his left-foot braking skills. They also worked hard on their pace note writing during the two-pass recce (Whangarei is the only New Zealand event to use the two-pass recce).

“Whangarei was pretty much the perfect the lead-in to Portugal,” says Holder, having set a number of new 2WD stage records and finishing ninth overall.

“Our two goals – left foot braking and refining our pace notes – went really well, although it’s fair to say Whangarei is a rally I know well so we could write good notes that worked really well during competition. Now we’re in Portugal, somewhere we’ve never been before, so it’s still a challenge to write good notes during recce this week.”

The decision to change his driving style to incorporate left foot braking, after almost eight years of competition using his right foot to brake, is one Holder believes is needed for greater speed in the longer term. “I wouldn’t say I’ve mastered it yet, but we managed to be fast, as well as nice and safe, so I was happy with that.”

Coming out of a familiar event they enjoy also offered Holder and Farmer a welcome change of pace after the intensity of the first two JWRC rounds when they had so much to learn, absorb and adapt to.

“In many respects, Whangarei was quite relaxing, among competitors we know well. Compared to WRC events, there was a lot less to do which allowed us to concentrate on our own developmental goals. We didn’t have any pressure, being separate to the main competition, but you can’t help be a bit competitive with a faster team or two. We were really happy to set some 2WD stage records, especially one on Sunday in the wet.”

Looking ahead to the Portuguese event based near Porto, in northern Portugal, the Kiwis face 358.19km of competition, broken into 20 special stages and connected by nearly 1,574km of touring stages. The event opens on Thursday evening at the picturesque Guimarães Castle before a 3.36km blast around Lousada rallycross circuit. Friday takes them toward the Spanish border for three stages repeated both morning and afternoon, and then back to Porto for two super special stages in the city centre. The longest leg of 154.64km, on Saturday, takes them east into the mountains with another repeated loop of three stages. The rally concludes on Sunday with five stages, including two runs on the famed Fafe stage which attracts tens of thousands of spectators. That is itself is going to be an exciting experience for Holder and Farmer.

Holder adds: “The commitment to undertake this JWRC campaign can’t be underestimated, and I’m thankful to Jason and his family for their support, our sponsors and supporters, and my wife Adina.”

Holder acknowledges the continued support of HWR Group, Mt Wheel Alignment, Chicane Racewear, Magnum Compliance, Farmline Machinery, Mt Bikes, KPMG Tauranga, Cooney Lees Morgan, Bell Booth, Thurlow Building & Construction, Monit Rally Computers and Amplified Customs.

More information about Holder’s world rallying journey can be found on the website, www.daveholderrally.com or their social media channels: https://www.facebook.com/DaveHolderRally/, https://twitter.com/DaveHolderRally and https://www.instagram.com/daveholderrally/.

2018 Junior WRC calendar for Holder and Farmer

Rally Sweden, 15-18 February
Rallye Tour de Corse, 5- 8 April
Rally de Portugal, 17-20 May
Rally Finland, 26-29 July
Rally of Turkey, 13-16 September

Source: Kate Gordon-Smith/Relish Communications

Photo: Adina Holder

Strong start for Armstrong in 2018 Formula Three Euro

Christchurch-born race driver Marcus Armstrong has started strongly – but with some frustration – in the 2018 FIA Formula 3 European Championship’s opening round over this weekend at Pau in France.

Armstrong, 17, was fifth overall in the first race of the season, improved to a podium in the second but was unable to finish the third after being nudged into the wall and then caught up in a midfield crash.

In race one Armstrong showed his potential: “I had a good start, we went from P9 to P6 and our pace was good as well in the early laps so I was pretty happy. The car felt good too and if we just got qualifying right, maybe we could be on the podium, but for being the first race in Formula 3 and the first race at Pau, I’m satisfied.”

His team-mate, Guanyu Zhou, won the race.

Sacha Fenestraz and Alex Palou were 1-2 from start to finish in the second race while Armstrong carved his way through from sixth place behind them to be third.

“That was a long way on a street circuit – P6 to P3! My start in race 2 was okay, not particularly good, but not particularly bad either. In turn 1, I then managed to take fourth place. After Scherer crashed into the barriers and slid back onto the track, he almost collected me. From that point of view, I was lucky to be on the podium in the first place.”

Armstrong said he was ‘partially buried’ in P8 for the rainy third and final race of the weekend, and well in the ‘danger zone’ where most opening-lap crashes occur. There was chaos at the start when Alex Palou ‘bogged’ and partially stalled, then having avoided the almost stationary car of Palou   Armstrong was held off the racing line by Dan Ticktum.

“It was a very low grip piece of track and I had no way to slot back onto the racing line,” he said.

Ticktum then bumped tyres with the Kiwi, sending him over a pedestrian kerb and into the Armco.

“It wasn’t a big hit but big enough, I hung on but was dropping back and then Ferdinand Habsburg and I came together in low visibility on the front straight and I hit the wall so that was it, race over on lap seven,” he said.”

His team-mate, Ralf Aron, grabbed the lead off the start from P3, defended his position on the restart after the cars of Habsburg and Armstrong were recovered and won the race, which was shortened by the rain. Armstrong is now fifth on points after one round and third in the rookie standings. His Prema team leads the teams’ standings.

“I’m really disappointed to miss another chance to make points, but third in the rookie points and fifth overall is a good start.”

 

European Formula 3 brings Kiwi driver to a massive audience

Marcus Armstrong will race this year in front of the biggest trackside and TV audiences he has ever seen. The growing profile of Formula 3 and the impending merger of F3 and GP3 mean the eyes of race fans, team managers, talent spotters and media are fixed on the F3 grid as never before.

The process began last year.

The 2017 race calendar took the FIA Formula 3 European Championship teams and drivers to eight different countries. During the course of the season they had to demonstrate their skills not only at current Formula One race venues, such as Spa-Francorchamps, the Hungaroring, Spielberg, Monza, the Hockenheimring and Silverstone, but also at two challenging street circuits: Pau and Nuremberg’s Norisring. The race meetings were attended by an average crowd of 63,600 visitors, representing an increase of about 9,000 visitors per event compared to 2016. The season finale at Hockenheim was witnessed by 152,000 spectators live on site and the Norisring meeting attracted 125,000 visitors. The fact that the FIA Formula 3 European Championship is very popular with motor-racing enthusiasts away from DTM events was demonstrated by the fact that the FIA Formula 3 race weekend at Spa-Francorchamps and the season kick-off at Silverstone were attended by 65,000 and 50,000 visitors respectively.

Indications are that this year’s championship will attract audiences up to 20 per cent greater in number both trackside and on television.

Sloan Cox races into third on international rallycross debut

Kiwi driver Sloan Cox showed he’s on the right track with his new rallycross endeavours, securing a well-deserved third place at his very first international rallycross event at the Höljes Motorstadion in Sweden on 6 May (CEST).

Cox, from Rotorua, has joined the RX Academy for the 2018 season, taking a new direction away from the New Zealand Rally Championship to focus on the intense, stadium-based motorsport discipline of rallycross, aka RX.

Considering Cox had had just one official test day in his 220 horsepower Renault Clio RS RX car, identical for all eight academy participants, and had never raced on a European rallycross circuit before, the result is all the more significant for the 26-year-old.

“It’s an amazing feeling to be on the podium at round one,” Cox says. “Of course I wanted to win but everyone is there to win! I knew it was going to be a tough battle because everyone was so even. So, a sensible drive to get on to the podium was more important than pushing for the win. I have learnt in motorsport that being consistent is the key so this is the great start to the year.”

Part of Cox’s preparation for the first of five RX Academy events was a three-day academy training camp.

“We focused mainly on the theory side of things with mental fitness, media skills and driving techniques. I enjoyed all the areas but what I wanted to work on the most was mental because rallycross takes a very different mindset to rally. The car is very different going back to front-wheel-drive, so I need to change my driving style, and racing with cars around me is obviously not what I’m used to.

“All the competitors worked real well together and I can tell it’s going to be a good year with tight battles. The RX Academy tutors are top level and have amazing experience. Christoph Treier, mental coach has worked with many top athletes and drivers in WRC and World RX. Head of media Hal Ridge also works in media for the World RX. Jussi Pinomäki, the head of RX Academy, leads the driving coaching and is a very good driver himself and runs other championship winning RX drivers.”

At the official test day in Strängnäs, Cox focused on quickly adapting to the front-wheel-drive Renault after his powerful four-wheel-drive Mitsubishi at home. “I love the car; it was awesome to drive. We did four laps in each session and did eight sessions. The track was a very good track to learn on. The day started out wet which was a challenge but good to learn as it exaggerated how you have to drive the car. As things dried out, we got faster. I concentrated hard on learning and made big improvements during the day. I felt by the end of the day I had really proven what I could do. I wasn’t the fastest, but I proved I could hold good speed and be consistent.”

Cox’s Renault also stood out from his competitors with a colourful custom design. “At the beginning of the year we were given the option of applying our own livery to the car at our own cost, so we made the most of the opportunity to replicate the design done by AWS Graphics that is also seen on our Taslo Engineering hillclimb beast. I believe that having a standout, different car is very important.”

Going into the first event at Höljes where the RX Academy category was part of massively popular RallyX Nordic championship, Cox says he had a feeling that he hadn’t had before. “When I rally I get very nervous at times, but this was such a new experience that I don’t know what to think. I was very excited but wasn’t expecting too much of myself; I just wanted to learn as much as I could.”

Saturday’s schedule saw Cox join his academy colleagues in a free practice session and qualifying heat, finishing each four-lap session seventh and sixth overall respectively. Further qualifying on Sunday saw Cox improve to fifth overall with several fastest lap times. His goal was to be one of the six drivers who made the final, which he did with second place in his semi-final. The semis and final comprise five, mad-dash laps with a whole race taking about four-and-a-half minutes.

“After the semi, my next goal was a podium in the final. I knew after the test day that a win was going to be hard work and I had more to learn, but a podium meant I could start the year with good points. And that I did with a third place finish in the final, so I’m now third on points after the first round.”

Cox is confident the change to the high intensity rallycross is a good move. “I’m feeling very positive for the year; now I just need to keep improving so I’ll be working on getting more seat time in front-wheel-drive cars on both tarmac and gravel. There’s also a possibility of racing in the RXA Australian Rallycross Championship – we’ll know more on that soon.”

He’s also loved his time in Europe so far. “Finland was a beautiful place and the whole SET Promotions team (which runs the RX Academy) were so welcoming straight away and made me feel so comfortable. Sweden is another amazing place and the people here are so nice. Europe is motorsport crazy and I have been lucky enough to meet some famous people and see amazing motorsport history on this trip.”

Before he returns to New Zealand, Cox will join RX Academy coaches and competitors at a round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship in Belgium and see rallycross competition at the highest level.

Cox will head back to Finland for three more RX Academy rounds – 16 June (Honkajoki), 11 August (Jalasjärvi) and 25 August (Kouvola), before the season concludes on 7 October at Tierps in Sweden.

Cox’s 2018 rallycross campaign is supported by Taslo Engineering, AJ’s Emporium, Driveline Automotive, Signedge and Teng Tools. Follow the news and action on Facebook: Sloan Cox Motorsport Ltd or RX Academy.

Source: Kate Gordon-Smith/Relish Communications

MotorSport New Zealand’s club championship decided

The premier Gold Star title at the 2018 New Zealand ClubSport Championship, held in Christchurch on 17 and March, was won by Cameron Morison, a Christchurch-based pilot in his twenties. Invercargill’s Rachel Lawrie, a 33-year-old accountant and mother from Invercargill, took out the Women in Motorsport NZ ClubSport Champion’s title and 18-year-old trainee mechanic Jordan Grant, from Tauranga, won the junior champion’s title for the second time.

The MotorSport New Zealand championship highlights the sport’s grassroots, club-level competition which attracts a high proportion of the country’s licenced competitors.

The NZ ClubSport Championship incorporates three very popular motorsport disciplines which form the basis of many New Zealand motorsport club events:

·         Motorkhana – an entry level event, run on a grass or sealed surface, where a competitor navigates their car around a course, of approximately 100 metres in length and marked by cones, at low speeds, usually in first gear and, at times, in reverse.

·         Autocross – a larger version of a motorkhana, but forward direction only and including straights of up to 100 metres (seal) or 200 metres (grass).

·         Bent Sprint – a timed run on a road course, gravel or sealed, which has at least one bend or curve, and is of a length determined by the organisers.

MotorSport New Zealand President Wayne Christie, from Christchurch, congratulated the organisers, Canterbury Car Club, and competitors on a well-run and hotly-contested event.

“These three disciplines – autocross, motorkhana and bent sprint – are the bedrock of our member club events, where competitors learn the key elements of car control and enjoy the excitement of competition,” says Christie.

“The skills learned in these grassroots forms of competition are vital for participants wishing to progress to club rallies and circuit racing, and then onto national and international level competition. Having said that, for many thousands of Kiwi motorsport competitors, these club-run events are what they love – relatively low budget, able to be contested in a wide range of cars with core safety equipment, and all about the spirit of competition and comradery you’d expect with a club event.

“By recognising ClubSport with a national championship pays due credit to the club-driven elements of our sport. These are our grassroots classes and it’s very encouraging for our sport that this year’s championship attracted strong entries and tight-fought competition.

“Canterbury Car Club, with assistance from nearby motorsport clubs, put together a well-organised and very well-presented event, befitting a national championship. Chris Protheroe and his team did themselves proud with a top notch venue and layouts – the autocross course, dubbed the Bathurst 800, reassembled the famed Mount Panorama circuit! Congratulations to all involved and the 2018 champions.”

Morison and Grant each receive a prize in the form of an exciting opportunity to compete overseas. These two 2018 ClubSport champions can enter one round of the 2018 Asia Zone Auto Gymkhana Championship. The prize covers their entry, airfares, accommodation and a vehicle to use during the competition.

Brian Budd, CEO of MotorSport NZ says: “The idea of offering this prize followed a presentation on the Asia Zone Auto Gymkhana Championship that Wayne Christie and I attended at the FIA Asia Pacific Zone Congress earlier this year. It seemed a great opportunity for New Zealand competitors to experience grassroots competition in Asia and to create some inter-country competition at this level. MSNZ has offered a similar opportunity for two Asian competitors to compete in our ClubSport Championship from 2019.”

Cameron Morison, 2018 NZ ClubSport Champion by Euan Cameron

Morison, who is originally from Invercargill, belongs to the Ashburton Car Club and is a member of MotorSport New Zealand’s voluntary ClubSport Advisory Commission. He says he enjoys the technical skill of the motorkhana and the speed of the bent sprint.

“The personal challenge to do better is what I enjoy most, but I also enjoy the build and work on my car as much as I enjoy driving, but neither would be fun without the friends you meet along the way,” says the three-time ClubSport champion who also won in 2014 and 2016. “A friend got me involved using my road car in 2010. I was a student on the time living on $250 a week and that was still enough to get involved. This year’s championship is again thanks to my friends who have supported me with encouragement, loaning equipment and storing my toy.”

Rachel Lawrie, 2018 NZ ClubSport Women’s Champion by Euan Cameron

Lawrie, a member of the Southland Sports Car Club, was delighted that a women’s championship was officially recognised this year. A three-time ClubSport championship entrant, she says it’s extra special to be the inaugural recipient of the Women in Motorsport NZ Ladies’ Cup.

“Each year I have improved my skills and slowly but surely I’m climbing the overall leader-board. The new women’s category creates an additional competition within the main competition, similar to how the junior class has operated for a number of years. I hope it will encourage others to give it a crack and not be intimidated by the overall extremely competitive, national championship field.”

Having started competing in club-level motorsport in 2014, Lawrie enjoys the technical challenge of the motorkhana and the speed of the bent sprint. “It’s all about the challenge and excitement, pushing your limits and learning new skills.”

She adds: “I’m a keen advocate for getting more young people and females into motorsport and try to get as many people involved as I can in the women’s and junior-focused autocross run annually by Eastern Southland Car Club. It’s a great, low pressure event to just have a go at the sport.”

Jordan Grant, 2018 NZ Junior ClubSport Champion by Euan Cameron

Grant, who belongs to Motorsport Bay of Plenty and is also a committee member, made his motorsport debut at last year’s NZ ClubSport Championship event held in Taupo where he won the 2017 NZ ClubSport Gold Star Junior Championship.

“I love the challenge and fun of racing against the clock,” says the teen who competes in a Suzuki Swift. “I’d like to thank my parents for their huge support and helping me work on my car. I’d also like to thank my sponsors Neil Rogers and Associates and Prospeed Motorsport and thank all the people that helped me to build my car into what it is today.”

This year’s New Zealand ClubSport Championship was run by the Canterbury Car Club at Mike Pero Motorsport Park (Ruapuna) and attracted 34 entries from around the country.

The governing body of motorsport in this country, MotorSport New Zealand is an incorporated society owned by approximately 100 member clubs. See www.motorsport.org.nz for more information.

Source: MotorSport NZ PR

Chandler’s contribution to NZ motorsport recognised at Halberg Awards

Aucklander Morrie Chandler, ONZM, was presented with a lifetime achievement award at the 55th Halberg Awards ceremony on 8 February.

Formerly the President of MotorSport New Zealand (MSNZ) from 1977 to 1998 and chairman of Rally New Zealand Ltd from 1978 to 2006 while also an active rally competitor, Chandler’s contributions to New Zealand motorsport have been many and varied across several decades. Chandler also contributed to the governance of motorsport at a global level holding several significant and influential roles with the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), starting with his appointment to the FIA Rally Commission in 1983. Chandler’s most recent FIA role was as a Vice President of the sport, a role he stepped down from at the end of 2017.

Wayne Christie, current MSNZ President, says that to see Chandler’s achievements recognised at the Halberg Awards is a proud day for motorsport in New Zealand.

“Morrie Chandler has been an extraordinarily positive force in New Zealand motorsport for more than 40 years,” says Christie. “Many aspects of our sport, nationally and internationally, have developed and flourished with Morrie’s guidance and ability to bring people together to work for the common good.

“On behalf of MotorSport New Zealand, I congratulate Morrie on this lifetime achievement award from the Halberg Awards. Thank you for your dedication to motorsport, Morrie, and for your advice and mentorship to many of us who follow in your footsteps. I won’t be the only one continuing to seek your input in the years to come, so thank you.”

Chandler says he is humbled, but proud to represent motorsport. “I’m proud to see motorsport being recognised by the Halberg Awards and it was a wonderful evening with so many accomplished people.”

The annual Halberg Awards is the major fundraiser for the Halberg Foundation, the charity set up by Olympic champion Sir Murray Halberg (ONZ) in 1963 to enhance the lives of physically disabled young New Zealanders by enabling them to participate in sport and recreation.

MotorSport New Zealand is the sole authority appointed by the FIA to regulate motor sport in New Zealand in order to promote and achieve safety, fairness, and social responsibility in the conduct of the sport.

Source: MotorSport NZ PR

New Zealand retains strong representation at the FIA

President of MotorSport New Zealand (MSNZ) Wayne Christie (pictured left), of Christchurch, has been elected president of the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) Rally Commission, following the 2017 annual general assembly of the world governing body of motorsport last week.

Christie follows two highly-regarded New Zealanders, Morrie Chandler (pictured right), ONZM and the late Ron Frost, MBE, in maintaining a Kiwi presence at the highest levels of world motorsport. Chandler and Frost, both from Auckland, were also former presidents of MSNZ – Chandler from 1977 to 1998 and Frost from 1958 to 1977.

Chandler has held several roles with the FIA, most recently as one of seven vice presidents on the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) for the last eleven years. Earlier he was one of 25 members of the WMSC – the sport’s top governing body. Chandler was also previously a member of the FIA’s Rallies Commission, then president of the World Rally Championship organisers before being elected president of the World Rally Championship Commission in 2006.

Chandler stepped down from the FIA Vice Presidential role this month, in accordance with the FIA statutes applying an age limit of 75 years at time of election to all FIA bodies. In recognition of his valued contributions over many years, Chandler was honoured with the title of Vice President d’Honneur de FIA during the 2017 general assembly meeting which concluded the FIA’s annual meetings in Paris.

“For a small country, New Zealand punches well above its weight in world motorsport as competitors and in the sport’s administration and regulation,” says Christie who was voted in as MSNZ president in 2016.

“Chandler and Frost, before me, forged significant pathways which assisted us to continue New Zealand’s representation at the highest levels of the FIA.

“Apart from the obvious successes of many Kiwi competitors internationally this year, New Zealand also ranks inside the top ten countries for numbers of motorsport competitors and events held, and this is purely on numbers, not per capita,” Christie says, quoting the FIA 2017 Sport Clubs Data Survey.

Stepping into his new global role as the president of the FIA Rally Commission alongside his MSNZ role and his full-time position with a Christchurch legal firm, Christie says he is better known as a circuit racing competitor.

“I have had some previous rallying co-driving experience, and have stewarded rallies up to New Zealand Championship level. I also bring eight years of experience heading up MSNZ advisory commissions, and it is this experience I believe I can bring to the FIA Rally Commission. There is already so much rally experience within the commission, my role is to help manage and coordinate the knowledge for the betterment of the sport. I’m also fortunate to have many, very experienced ‘rally brains’ in New Zealand who I can draw upon.”

Christie believes he has the skills to make a difference at FIA level. “The MSNZ board agreed that it was desirable for New Zealand to continue its long-standing presence at that level of the FIA. There are several reasons behind this: a lot of work has gone before us that should not be let go lightly; motorsport in New Zealand has benefitted from that level of involvement and can continue to do so; and New Zealand is well respected within the FIA family and can continue to contribute in a positive manner.”

The FIA Rally Commission is responsible for overseeing the welfare of rallying below World Rally Championship level, with a particular focus on the global regional rally championships, such as the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

Christie acknowledges there are stiff challenges facing several of the regional rally championships.

“I’m looking forward to working with the 25 commission members to address the issues and concerns to make rallying in the regions around the world stronger, with key issues such as costs among the biggest hurdles.”

Christie’s position heading the FIA Rally Commission also means that he has a seat on the WRC Commission as well as the Safety Commission.

Two other New Zealanders are also represented at the highest levels of the FIA include New Zealand Automobile Association (NZAA) CEO Brian Gibbons who takes over the presidency of the FIA Senate, which oversees the FIA’s management and finances.  Mike Noon, the NZAA’s general manager of motoring affairs, was elected president of Region II (Asia Pacific) for the FIA Mobility Programmes Committee. NZAA members Simon Douglas and Dougal Swift were also elected as vice-chairmen of the FIA Mobility Policy Commission and the FIA Mobility Services Commission respectively.

The FIA is comprised of 245 motoring and motor sport club members in 143 countries and has 80 million members. The FIA divides the world into seven zones with New Zealand in the Asia-Pacific region.

Source: MotorSport NZ PR

MotorSport New Zealand focuses on volunteer welfare

As International Volunteer Day is recognised on 5 December, MotorSport New Zealand is working to develop a set of volunteer welfare guidelines for motorsport event organisers.

Every weekend in New Zealand, hundreds of motorsport volunteers head to race circuits and closed road events such as rallies and hill climbs to ensure that competitors can safely participate in their chosen form of motorsport. The volunteers fulfil vital roles such as flag marshals or grid personnel, timing or fire and rescue crews, scrutineers or technical officials, competitor relations officers, or event management personnel such as clerks of the course and stewards.

“Without our volunteers, motorsport in New Zealand simply would not happen,” says MotorSport New Zealand President, Wayne Christie.

One of the issues around volunteer welfare being considered by MotorSport New Zealand and one of its advisory commissions, the Volunteers Commission – whose members are also volunteers – is the amount of time that volunteers donate annually to the operations, management and safety of motorsport in New Zealand.

“MotorSport New Zealand has a responsibility to look after the welfare of its volunteers,” says Christie. “Volunteers contribute significant amounts of their time outside their jobs and other life responsibilities, to ensure that motorsport thrives and flourishes. Our volunteers often work very long days at events and several weekends in a row for the benefit of motorsport. That contribution is huge and, at times, not fully recognised and acknowledged. We accept that they are a vital ingredient in the running of our events, and even though volunteering is their chosen sport, the contribution made by our volunteers needs to be acknowledged more than we currently do.

“We are working with our Volunteer Commission to consider what may need to change in order to better look after our volunteers. From these discussions, a guiding document will be formulated for the MotorSport New Zealand board to consider and implement across the sport.”

The International Volunteer Day is a United Nations-led initiative and takes place each year on 5 December. The aim in 2017 is to use the day to celebrate and recognise New Zealand’s volunteers for the invaluable work they do in our communities, locally and globally.

More information about how to become a motorsport volunteer can be found on the MotorSport New Zealand website http://www.motorsport.org.nz/resources/getstarted/volunteers.

Source: MotorSport NZ PR

Photo: Geoff Ridder

Paddon’s social media vision recognised by WRC peers

Kiwi rally star Hayden Paddon was presented with the WRC.com Social Media Star of the Year award at the WRC Gala awards in Sydney on Monday 20 November.

Paddon, the only New Zealander competing in the FIA World Rally Championship, has built a strong social media presence during his international career with over 400,000 followers on Facebook, 68,000 on Instagram and 36,700 on Twitter.

Oliver Ciesla, Managing Director, WRC Promoter, says: “Social media continues to change the way people interact and communicate, and in the WRC that’s no different. It’s a key way to engage with fans all over the world.

“The WRC.com Social Media Star of the Year Award is awarded by the WRC Promoter to recognise the outstanding achievements of a driver who has done the most to reach out to fans in the most innovative and prolific way, for the benefit of the sport, their teams and sponsors, and themselves.

“Hayden has deservedly been recognised for his outstanding efforts to engage with fans through the creation of emotive content from his activities surrounding the WRC which complement the championship.”

Paddon is known for his desire to connect directly and candidly with his fans. Unlike many professional athletes who use paid PR professionals or social media agencies to manage their social media accounts, it’s Paddon himself, or sometimes his co-driver Seb Marshall, posting photos, videos and comments to social media before, during and after events. Working with Hyundai New Zealand, the concept of the #PaddonsPack supporters’ group on social media gained significant momentum during 2017.

But the release of two ‘Paddon’s Playground’ videos this year added a whole new dimension to Paddon’s social media strategy. He’d conceived the idea of showcasing some of his favourite parts of New Zealand in a rally car. While he was home earlier this year, he blasted his New Zealand Hyundai AP4+ through the scenic wonders of Minaret Station on the edge of Lake Wanaka and up the Cardrona ski field road. The two hugely-popular videos were filmed and produced by John-Jo Ritson from Christchurch-based Flashworks Media.

Wayne Christie, President of MotorSport New Zealand, says: “Hayden has been a fantastic ambassador of motorsport both in New Zealand and overseas. He continues to promote himself and rallying through social media to a dedicated fan base and has created a loyal following that has enhanced the profile of Kiwi rallying and all of New Zealand to his legions of fans around the world. Hayden’s popularity at home is clearly evident when he competes in New Zealand by the sheer number of spectators that line the stages.

“Hayden has deservedly become a household name achieved through his efforts and the support of a small team via the power of social media plus traditional media. It is great to see him recognised by the WRC Promoter for his contribution in this area. Congratulations to you, Hayden. You’ve set the bar high for other Kiwi motorsport competitors.”

The social media award added to a positive weekend for Paddon who finished third in Rally Australia.

“Big thanks to WRC for recognising the effort of our small group of people for the social media award of the year,” he said. “Social media plays a huge part in keeping our fans up to date and feeling a part of our journey but I’m only a small part of it. Credit also goes to my co-driver Seb Marshall, media manager Kate Gordon-Smith, McKlein Photography for the images, John-Jo from Flashworks Media for our videos, Gary Boyd with analytics and Twitter comments, Hyundai New Zealand and the wider New Zealand media. Also big thanks to our fans who are a huge part of this.”

Source: MotorSport NZ PR

Hartley creating history for New Zealand motorsport

Kiwi racing star Brendon Hartley continues to make New Zealand motorsport history with confirmation that he will continue to drive for Formula 1 team Scuderia Toro Rosso for the 2018 season.

Having made his F1 debut with the team in the United States just over one month ago, Palmerston North-born Hartley will make his fourth appearance for the team at the 2017 F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi on 26 November, and has impressed the team and media with his ability to quickly learn the intricacies of the F1 car and regulations.

“We’re thrilled for Brendon as this is the key opportunity at the peak of world motorsport he always aimed to achieve,” says Brian Budd, CEO of MotorSport New Zealand. “There’s no doubt that Brendon has worked extremely hard over the years and this hard work plus his talents behind the wheel and as a professional athlete have seen him deservedly earn this chance to race in Formula 1. With every race next year, Brendon will continue to inspire younger Kiwi motorsport competitors, particularly those participating in the New Zealand Elite Motorsport Academy from which Brendon graduated in 2006.”

Source: MotorSport NZ PR

Stellar year for Kiwi stars Hartley and Bamber

Kiwi racing stars Brendon Hartley and Earl Bamber, with Porsche team-mate Timo Bernhard, secured the 2017 FIA World Endurance Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ Championship at the penultimate round in Shanghai over the weekend.

The result adds to a stellar year for Hartley and Bamber, from Palmerston North and Wanganui respectively, particularly with Hartley’s recent successful Formula 1 debut with Scuderia Toro Rosso and confirmation that he’s racing for the F1 team for the remaining three 2017 events.

It is Hartley’s second WEC drivers’ title, the first coming in 2015 with Bernhard and Australian Mark Webber, and Bamber’s first. The friends who raced karts together as children swapped the stats around when they partnered with Bernhard to win the iconic Le Mans 24 Hours earlier this year – that was Bamber’s second Le Mans victory and Hartley’s first.

“We’re absolutely delighted for Brendon and Earl,” says Wayne Christie, President of MotorSport New Zealand. “They have done New Zealand proud and are proving an incredible inspiration for younger Kiwi motorsport competitors, particularly those participating in the Elite Motorsport Academy as both Brendon and Earl are graduates of our highly-regarded academy programme.”

Christie puts out the challenge to those involved in New Zealand’s high-profile sports awards. “We know Brendon and Earl will be lauded in an array of regional and national motorsport awards in the coming months, and they also deserve to be recognised in wider sporting awards for their incredible, history-making achievements.”

From Shanghai, Hartley has jetted off to join Toro Rosso for the Brazilian Grand Prix next Monday (NZ time), before re-joining Bamber and Bernhard for the final WEC event of the season, the Six Hours of Bahrain, in two weeks. Meanwhile, Porsche has confirmed that Bamber will return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the GTLM class for the 2018 season, the series he contested for Porsche in 2015 and 2016.

Christie also congratulates another New Zealander winning a major championship in a Porsche in Shanghai.

“Chris van der Drift secured the 2017 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia Championship title over the weekend, where he battled Earl Bamber’s younger brother Will among a talented field to win the championship. It’s wonderful to also see Will Bamber secured third in this extremely competitive championship.

“There’s also been exciting race action at the ITM Auckland SuperSprint over the weekend, with two New Zealanders – Scott McLaughlin and Fabian Coulthard – still in contention for the Supercars Championship title.

“This year is certainly a stellar year for New Zealand motorsport.”

Source: MotorSport NZ PR