Mountain to climb

By Catherine Pattison on Sat, 3 Feb 2018 | Latest News
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Mount Maunganui driver David Holder is in Poland participating in the official pre­season test for the 2018 FIA Junior World Rally Championship. PHOTO: MARCIN SNOPKOWSKI

While New Zealand recently sweltered in a heatwave, rally driver Dave Holder has headed to a considerably cooler climate to participate in the 2018 FIA Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC) pre-season test.

Hailing from Mount Maunganui, Holder (29) and his Hamilton co-driver Jason Farmer were hoping for snow when they arrived in Poland earlier this week.
The pair have confirmed their entry in the five-round JWRC, which gets under way on the snow-covered roads of Rally Sweden on February 15 - hence Holder's wish for some white stuff during this week's test.

‘‘Unfortunately, the weather didn't play ball, so it ended up being a gravel test rather than the snow we were looking for. However, I've arranged to get a day's tuition with a private snow driving school in Norway next week. The track is on a frozen lake so I'll be guaranteed some ice and snow,'' Holder said.

Although he wasn't using their actual Ford Fiesta R2 Eco Boost rally car in the test, time in a car, in any conditions, is always valuable, Holder added.

‘‘It was great to get in the car for the first time [on Thursday] and plenty to take in, but even just getting the little but equally important things right, for example the driver's seat position, can have a huge affect on how quickly you adapt to the car.''

The pre-season test also saw Holder and Farmer spend time with JWRC category managers M-Sport, learning about WRC sporting regulations and how the events run, and getting familiar with the Ford Fiesta R2 cars supplied by M-Sport for this category.

‘‘Everything about how the team operates is very professional, right down to how they setup the test area and organise the cars during the day. It's a huge benefit to know we'll receive the best support all year,'' Holder said.

Holder and Farmer are one of 14 JWRC crews entered for Rally Sweden, all of whom are targeting the championship's significant prize package, which this year includes a new Ford Fiesta R5 rally car, 200 tyres towards the 2019 WRC2 series, free fuel for seven rounds of 2019 WRC2, free WRC2 registration and free entry to some rallies.

The pair will be the first New Zealanders to compete in the JWRC, which takes in some of the WRC's key European regions; Sweden, Corsica (France), Portugal, Finland and Turkey.

Over the summer, Holder has been working on his physical training and the seemingly never-ending effort needed to put together the commercial partnerships and financial support to compete in his first international season of rallying.
JWRC competitors count points from their best four of the five rounds. Holder and Farmer plan to contest all five rounds to gain as much experience as possible.

‘‘Plus, although you hope it won't happen, there is a chance of a problem or mechanical failure, so dropping a round only puts more pressure on the other events for a good result,'' Holder said.