Our first Asia-Pacific event for 2018 with the new Cusco Toyota Vitz got off to a brilliant start with only WRC driver Hayden Paddon faster than us over the first three stages, held on the fast roads in the Northland region of New Zealand.
Given that this is the first time the car has run with the new Lexus engine it has given team the confidence to know they have built a great car and now its all about building on that potential. Unfortunately we retired on Stage 5, after a steering problem on stage 4, then a brush with a bank that damaged the radiator and later in the stage the engine overheated.
Canberra Rally, Australia is next (1-3 June) and a completely different event with lots of dips and jumps. As my co-driver Malcolm Read is committed to the Australian Rally Championship and Subaru driver Molly Taylor for Canberra, Scott Beckwith will take over co-driving duties for this event.
Scott is no stranger to the Cusco team as he was Rifat Sungkar's co-driver in 2011 and he was 'team coach' in 2013 when Malcolm and I first worked together at Malaysian Rally 2013. Last month Scott and I competed in a West Australian Rally Championship event to get some seat time together. It was pretty successful too as we finished 2nd overall in a 2WD car - hope we can repeat or better that result in Canberra.
Check out our VIDEO promo from NZ or click on this link to view APRC TV News from the event.