Thursday, Dec 7 09:20am
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

NZRC champion David Holder in line for JWRC seat with M-Sport

Former New Zealand Rally Championship winner David Holder is hoping he'll be picked to drive in the Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC) alongside co-driver Jason Farmer. 


Holder and Farmer have registered to take part in the championship with the M-Sport Poland outfit. The pair will have to wait until December 15 before they know whether they'll be able to compete in the championship come 2018. 


If successful, Holder will become the first New Zealander to have competed in the five-round JWRC. While he's waiting, Holder is trying to find the necessary €185,000 budget to contest the championship.


Holder said he looked at th South-East Asia market with a potential Asia Pacific Rally Champioship campaign. However, having been working alongside World Rally Championship driver Hayden Paddon – seeing what's on offer in Europe – Holder decided he needed to go there instead. 


"Right from the outset, I’ve made no secret about rallying being more than a hobby for me," he said.


"We had thought about entering the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, but this year’s fact-finding trip to the Spanish World Rally Championship event and other parts of Europe confirmed that this is where I need to be to continue learning and developing as a driver."


The chance to compete in the JWRC is a huge opportunity for Holder. If he's fortunate to compete in it and win, he'll automatically gain entry for the 2019 WRC2 season in a Ford Fiesta R5. 


On top of that he'll get 200 tyres, free registration, free entry, and free fuel for seven rounds of the championship. But Holder said he's coy about his chances in what would be his first time rallying on those European stages. 


"There’s no doubt the prize package on offer is fantastic, I mean who doesn’t want to win an R5 car?


"However, we need to be realistic about our first year over there. We’ll be up against young guys who not only already have a lot of experience on the events but are the brightest talents from around the world.


"Jason and I plan to take the first two rallies – Sweden and Corsica with their respective and unfamiliar snow and tarmac surfaces – steady and ensure we finish every kilometre to get the most from the experience. After that we'll have some knowledge of the car/team, so will target podium finishes for the second half of the season."


Now 28-years-old and based out of Tauranga, Holder is looking to get behind the wheel of the Ford Fiest R2 EcoBoost raly car. In recent years he's driven mostly four-wheel-drive rally cars, but he said he's excited to get back behind the wheel of a front-wheel-drive rally car.


"Strangely I’m really looking forward to being back in a 2WD, although I’ll find out quickly if any bad habits have developed after driving 4WDs.


"The low power combined with two less driving wheels means you really have to maximise corner speed all the time to be fast, so without a doubt the experience will make me a better driver in the long term."


The five-round championship is contested across several major World Rally Championship events, including Sweden in February, France's Corsica in April, Portugal in May, Finland in July and Turkey in September.


"We’re planning to do all five rounds. We need to get as much experience as we can on every possible WRC event, plus there’s always the chance of mechanical failure, so dropping a round only puts more pressure on the other events for a good result."