New Zealander Michael Young, the leading Two-wheel drive and Junior Cup driver in the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) is determined to extend his lead in the championship at this weekend's International Rally of Queensland.
Based out of Caloundra, the International Rally of Queensland is the third round of the APRC, but only Young’s second, as he opted out of the New Caledonian event. “Our goal is just to get more time in the Cusco Toyota Vitz and win the two-wheel-drive class outright, as well as the Junior cup,” said Young.
As the only registered New Zealander in the APRC this year, Young, originally from Opotiki in the Bay of Plenty, has big goals for this event as he goes head to head with Australian rivals on roads Young has only competed on once before.
“Adrian [Coppin] has already laid down the challenge and said he’ll be trying to beat me,” said Young, “but we have the APRC to think about so while we’ll check our times against his and hopefully have a good battle with him, we also need to be thinking about the championship which is our main focus this weekend.”
Although Young admits that securing the top spot will be a challenge, particularly if the weather forecast predicting rain is correct.
“If it rains, it will add a whole new challenge to the rally. A lot of the roads we’re competing over are dirt based and get incredibly slippery when it’s wet, which could change things a little,” explained Young. “But I’m lucky that I have Daniel [Willson] co-driving for me who has a lot of experience on these roads. He’s pretty good at telling me where it might be slippery and things like that, which certainly helps.”
Young also had a small taste of Queensland’s white sandy beaches this morning, when APRC drivers teamed up with Maroochydore Surf Life Saving Club to highlight the eclectic mix of drivers from countries all around the world on one of the most spectacular backdrops of the season so far.
During the official proceedings, Young was joined by 12 year old Tiarnee Massie, who Young later found out had recently saved a life while surfing at Kata Beach in Thailand. “It wasn’t until after we left that I saw the front page of the local newspaper and saw her on it. When I realised what it was for, I was gutted I wasn’t able to congratulate her in person but thought it was pretty cool,” said Young.
The diverse line-up of drivers demonstrates the international appeal of the APRC and Young says he was proud to hold the New Zealand flag up against those from Finland, India, Australia and Japan.
The International Rally of Queensland gets underway at 6.30pm on Friday, 12 July from Nambour Showgrounds. It runs over 223 kilometres of closed special stages over two days around the Imbil and Nambour regions and finishes at the Imbil Showgrounds service park at approximately 3.30pm on Sunday. Event organisers have also included a special stage at the Nambour Showgrounds where fans can get up close to the rally action on Friday evening and watch the cars race around the specially designed track.
Young’s APRC campaign is supported by CUSCO, Toyota Racing Developments, Dunlop and Yoda Rallying.
Photos: Asia Pacific Sports Media