Joining the growing contingent of hopefuls vying for the overall Goldstar title by contesting the 2013 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship are a Queensland team, committing to the six-round series.
Matt van Tuinen, a 2009 Queensland Rally Champion, will campaign a Subaru STi with co-driver Erin Kelly. Returning for a full tilt this year having done a part season in 2011, the 33-year-old says the lure of the New Zealand series was too much to resist.
“We had so much fun in 2011 with the roads, events and people we met that we’ve been planning ever since to come back – it’s just so much fun to rally in New Zealand.”
Competing in the overall Super Rally field, supported by Auto Finance Direct, van Tuninen says the additional incentive of prize money added to his decision to again challenge the Kiwi’s on their home turf. While the car is being shipped to New Zealand for the opening round it will be based at a Hamilton workshop for the first half of the season.
“Then we are going to do the Pacific Cup so our car will travel out to New Caledonia and on to Australia, so we’ll look to source another car in New Zealand for the last few rounds – locally.”
Another lure was the cost to compete: Van Tuninen says the outlay is about the same to ship his car and crew trans-Tasman to competing on home soil: “And it is much much closer than going to Perth, for example,” he adds.”
“From that point of view it makes a lot of sense to look at New Zealand events. We hold no illusions that we’re not going to be blowing everyone away. We know New Zealand drivers are very very fast and they have an advantage knowing the roads but we’ll be doing the best job we can and be there to have fun at the end of the day. Plus with the rule changes there are going to be some interesting cars and it’s going to be interesting to see who the front runners will be. We just have to do the best job we can and see where we end up at the end of the day.”
Among an entry list of current and past rally champions nudging past 28 with a week until entries close, the opening round starts with the Drivesouth Rally of Otago from 6 to 7 April. The series then heads north for the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship round at the International Rally of Whangarei in association with the Brian Green Property Group (17-19 May). The rest of the season is then one day events: Daybreaker Rally (Manawatu, 29 June), Canterbury Rally (10 August), 10th Anniversary Possum Bourne Memorial Rally, sponsored by Vantage (7 September) with the final being held at the Trusthouse Racetech Rally Wairarapa (5 October).
News and information about the championship – including driver profiles and team news – can be found on the website www.nzrallychampionship.co.nz, or follow New Zealand Rally Championship on Facebook.