Michael returns to the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) again this year at the championship’s first round, the International Rally of Whangarei in New Zealand held this weekend, to defend the three titles he won during 2013 including the Junior Cup title.
Mike, the only registered New Zealander competing in the 2014 APRC championship, says while he knows he has a big task ahead of him, especially with Australian driver Tom Wilde also entering the two-wheel-drive class in a Renault Clio R3, he's determined to maintain his winning streak from last year.
“Tom has entered the championship in his Renault Clio R3 and I’m sure he will be hard to beat because he has a lot of experience and his R3 is quick! But I’m hoping my experience of the New Zealand roads should count for something this weekend and I’m looking forward to the good battle.”
The Kiwi-Australian battle-duo will stay close with Mike and Tom both registered for the full APRC Championship and the mini Pacific Cup title, contested over the three Pacific rounds; New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia.
“This will be my fourth Rally of Whangarei plus it’s my home event. The roads are flat-out and completely smooth which means I can enjoy driving them much more and not have to worry about breaking the car so much. The roads are new for everyone on the first day and then we get into familiar territory on the second day.”
This year also sees Mike switch back to a two-wheel-drive Proton Satria Neo which he's looking forward to getting back into, as he has plenty of experience driving it. "It is also a well-tested and proven car which features a dog-box and Cusco suspension which lets us change a lot of things for each event which is obviously quite important."
“Lots of people have asked why we haven’t continued with the Toyota and the answer is Toyota Racing Development (TRD) wanted the Vitz (Yaris) back this year for promotional purposes. The door is definitely not closed at TRDand we may have another opportunity later in the year, but in a different car.”
Another new change for Mike and his Cusco team is the addition of experienced co-driver Erin Kelly from Australia, who contested rounds of the APRC last year in a late model Subaru.
“Erin is joining us for Whangarei because Malcolm Read [regular co-driver] is competing with a local driver in the New Zealand championship. But I can’t wait to work with Erin as she has extensive experience in rallying all around the Asia Pacific region so she’s really the perfect person for the job.”
The International Rally of Whangarei is based around the Northland city of Whangarei and sees crews compete across 14 special stages totalling 241 competitive kilometres during Saturday 12 April and Sunday 13 April, 2014. It all starts on Friday 11 April at the Cameron Street Mall in Whangarei town centre, before finishing at approximately 3.00pm at the Quayside Town Basin in Whangarei city.
Young’s APRC campaign is supported by Cusco, Dunlop, YodaRallying OMP, CRC Speedshow, Club Cadet and Sommet Sports.
Michael Young’s 2014 APRC Calendar
Round 1: 12-13 April, International Rally of Whangarei, New Zealand
Round 2: 17-18 May, Rally New Caledonia
Round 3: 21-22 June, International Rally of Queensland, Australia
Round 4: 16-17 August, Malaysian Rally, Malaysia
Round 5: 27-28 September, Rally Hokkaido, Japan
Round 6: 08-09 November, China Rally, China