David Holder aims to become the first New Zealander to contest the FIA Junior World Rally Championship next season.
Hyundai star and fellow Kiwi Hayden Paddon is backing the 2016 New Zealand champion, who has registered for the five-round series but must await the first selection of competitors later this month.
Holder (above left), who will be co-driven by Jason Farmer, views the Junior WRC as a key step up rallying’s ladder.
“Right from the outset, I’ve made no secret about rallying being more than a hobby for me,” said the 28-year-old from Tauranga.
“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 this is where I need to be to continue learning and developing as a driver.”
Holder attended this week’s Junior open day at series organiser M-Sport’s Poland facility. He received tuition in the championship’s Ford Fiesta R2 from the squad’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB winner Elfyn Evans.
It was Holder’s first time driving a left-hand drive car and his first asphalt experience.
“It was extremely slippery so not really that representational, but great to get a feeling for the car. Elfyn was great with feedback, and really encouraging considering the slow speeds we were achieving,” he said.
Each of the five rounds – Sweden, Corsica, Portugal, Finland and Turkey – will be new to Holder, who is realistic about his goals.
“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.”
Paddon is delighted to see Holder pursue his dream of an international career.
“It’s great to see Dave show it’s possible for Kiwis to compete on the world stage. He has showed at the New Zealand level that he has the talent, and the next step from there is the support categories of the WRC.
“We all know the biggest hurdles are the financial barriers, but Dave is committed and working hard towards his dream. That passion and drive will take him a long way,” he said.