Michael Young, the only New Zealander competing in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), is set to tackle the incredibly tough Malaysian Rally, based in Johor Bahru against world-class competitors this weekend.
The 22-year-old from Opotiki is ready to continue his fight for the overall APRC Championship but says he knows this rally in particular is one of the toughest on the calendar.
“There are so many massive challenges in Malaysia but the extreme heat and temperatures in the car are the main ones. At the moment it's winter where I'm living so it's always a big shock to the system arriving in Malaysia where it’s nice and warm. The heat is perfect for a holiday but not so much when you’re driving a rally car."
“The roads are also tough and are very tight and twisty. The slower speeds means there is no air coming into the car and it makes it hard to concentrate. There are also deep ditches that line the road which are easy to slip into but hard to get out of, plus there are palm oil trees that are everywhere.”
On the back of graduating ‘Top of the Class’ at the 2015 Motorsport New Zealand Elite Motorsport Academy, Young feels that he is well prepared for the notoriously tough event.
“We learnt a lot of things at the Elite Motorsport Academy that are going to be a huge help in Malaysia. We talked about things like hydration, mental skills and heat stress there so all of those will be vital for success in Malaysia with the hot and challenging conditions.”
The 2015 event also marks a special anniversary for Young and Hamilton co-driver Malcolm Read as they celebrate the third year of their successful partnership which started in Malaysia in 2013.
“Malcolm and I have had a lot of fun over the past three years and we make a pretty good team. In the three years that we’ve competed together, we’ve managed to finish every rally and have enjoyed lots of success as a result. We’re pretty keen to continue this trend in Malaysia.”
The Kiwi duo admit it won’t be an easy task to win the event outright with internationally acclaimed drivers taking part in the event including WRC2 driver Pontus Tidemand (Sweden), former APRC champions Gaurav Gill (India) and Jussi Valamaki (Finland) plus their main competition in the Production Cup category Indonesian driver Subhan Aksa who has enjoyed considerable success at the Malaysian Rally in the past.
“I think Subhan [Aksa] will be my biggest rival in Malaysia as he has a lot of experience on these slippery roads and has done well here in the past. We have battled all year in similar cars and I’m sure Malaysia will be no different.”
The Malaysian Rally has been part of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship since its inception as a regional rally championship in 1988. Malaysia has had its own rally heroes including 2001 WRC Production Cup and 2001-2002 APRC Champion Karamjit Singh, also known as “The Flying Sikh”. Malaysian car manufacturer Proton has been actively involved in the championship too, winning the manufacturers trophy in 2011.
The Malaysian Rally begins with a ceremonial start on Friday evening at the Angsana Complex in Johor Bahru before teams compete across 14 closed special stages, totalling 226.56 kilometres, at the palm oil plantations around Kota Tinggi over Saturday 15th and Sunday 16th August 2015.
New Zealanders can also join in on the action at the Malaysian Rally, or visit for a holiday, with direct flights departing Auckland daily via Singapore Airlines code sharing with Air New Zealand, or Malaysia Airlines.
Young’s APRC campaign is supported by Cusco, EZY Racing, Dunlop, YodaRallying, KOS Sunglasses, Verandah Apartments and Sanjay Takale.