Subaru's Chris West is looking forward to matching it with the world's best production car drivers when he lines up at the penultimate round of the World Rally Championship, Rally NZ, held in the Waikato from November 16 to 19.
Westy and co-driver Garry Cowan will be competing under the same rules as the Production Car World Rally Championship drivers in their Subaru New Zealand Rally Team Impreza WRX STI over the four-day event, having received a free entry into the PCWRC Class from Rally NZ organizers.
West, the 2004 national champion and four times production class champion has undertaken two days of testing with the Winger Subaru Impreza WRX STI since the final round of the national series at Nelson.
"I'm very happy with the car since the rebuild," said Westy. "We've set it up for the different conditions expected on this year's event. Rally NZ requires a different approach than our regular NZRC events. It's a whole different ball game. It's vital that car set up is 100% to ensure you carry maximum car speed and have good stability on the high speed, gravel swept Waikato back country roads."
"In local events we're used to running first or second car on the road and having to sweep the gravel aside," said Westy. "On Rally NZ we'll be running down the field behind all the factory teams and the other PCWRC cars on well swept roads."
Testing also involved getting used to the PCWRC rules exclusive to the class. "Testing the required bar coded control tires and the use of FIA fuel that every PCWRC crew has to use gave us an insight in to what to expect on the event" said West.
"Realistically I want to have a shot at getting on the podium," said Westy. "We've been quick against these guys in previous years. But because the event has been part of the national championship we've had to take the points on offer for the NZRC into contention."
"That's something we don't have to worry about that this year" said West.
While the Rally of New Zealand is the final event for the Subaru New Zealand Rally Team, Westy is hoping to retain the same personnel and car to contest next season's events with independent commercial sponsorship.
"We want to end Subaru New Zealand's direct involvement on a high and a top result against the international drivers will also be a great way to attract support for 2007," said Westy.