Rising rally driver Michael Young has scored his second FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship Junior Cup category win of the season while competing in the International Rally of Queensland for the first time.
Young, a 19-year-old from Bay of Plenty New Zealand, in his first full season of international rallying, enjoyed a tight tussle with young Japanese driver Akira Bamba throughout the two-day event.
Young and co-driver Tasmanian Daniel Willson went into the Queensland event leading the Junior Cup class following their class win in Whangarei early in April to give them an eleven point lead over Kenneth Koh, from Malaysia.
However Koh was out of the Queensland rally with mechanical issues on stage five, leaving Young battling with Bamba. The Japanese driver managed to finish day one with a ten second margin over Young after Young’s two-wheel-drive Proton Satria Neo suffered some damage.
“It was a big battle with Akira all day Saturday and we’d had the Junior Cup lead virtually all day until the last couple of stages,” says Young. “We went out this morning (Sunday) determined to take the lead back and that’s what we did. We won the first 15.35 km stage by 20 seconds, giving us the lead and then we kept the lead all day to make this our second win from two events.”
With experience rallying in Malaysia, Japan and New Zealand, Young was competing in Australia for the first time. “It was great. I really enjoyed the rally which was based Caloundra, about an hour north of Brisbane on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. It started out muddy, but got drier and faster especially on Sunday’s stages. We did have a bit of trouble when we hit a big rock yesterday. We went up on two wheels and the control arm got bent, but the team was able to fix at service. Other than that, the car ran brilliantly and it was a really enjoyable event.”
The International Rally of Queensland, running 25 to 27 May, was the third round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship and, like the opening round, Brother International Rally of Whangarei in New Zealand, saw Australian Chris Atkinson take the overall APRC victory.
Young won not only the Junior Cup, but the 1600cc category for APRC competitors, giving the young Kiwi another achievement to note on his barely one-year-old rally career highlights list. The APRC Junior Cup was first introduced in 2011 with the intention of increasing opportunities for young talented drivers from within the region.
It’s open to drivers aged 28 years or younger as at 1 January 2012 driving currently homologated two-wheel-drive cars with a maximum engine capacity of 1600cc. The 2012 Junior Cup covers four APRC rounds – New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and Japan – with competitors required to enter at least two rounds to qualify for points.
Young joins the APRC competitors at the Malaysian Rally over the weekend of 14 and 15 July before the Junior Cup wraps up at Rally Hokkaido in Japan 15 and 16 September.