DRIVER | Mike Young (NZ)
CO-DRIVER | Malcolm Read (NZ)
TEAM | Cusco Racing Japan
SPONSORS | Cusco Racing, Dunlop Tyres, Mike Young Motorsport, GO Logistics, Wurth, APSMtv, Thompson's Horticulture, SAS
AGE | 28
Mike Young started rallying at 18 years old, his first event being the 2011 Rally of New Zealand in his Dad’s 1989 Nissan March Superturbo, followed by three Malaysian Rally Championship events with the Pennzoil Rally team.
A one-off appearance at 2011 Rally Hokkaido lead to an opportunity to drive a Cusco prepared Proton Satria in the 2012 Asia Pacific Rally Championship Junior series. Competing against the manufacturer backed Proton Junior team, Young as a privateer won the first two rounds and lead the Junior championship until a big crash on the final round put him out of contention.
It was a tough lesson but Young returned to the 2013 APRC in a TRD Toyota Vitz, fully supported by Cusco Racing and Dunlop Japan. Co-driver Malcolm Read joined Young for the 2013 Malaysian Rally and the partnership had immediate results – second overall and first of the APRC registered drivers to finish.
Later that year in the Thailand Rally, Read used his mechanical skills at the end of a stage to repair a broken wheel and the rear brakes of the Toyota, to keep the pair in the event. On the final day when four of their rivals retired in front of them they were rewarded with the FIA Asia Cup, the only time it’s been won in a two-wheel drive car and Young the youngest driver ever to win it. Watch it here.
In 2014 Young and Read returned to the APRC in a Cusco prepared 1600cc Proton. The highlights for the year included third overall in Rally New Caledonia and second overall at the China Rally, to finish the year second overall in the FIA Drivers Championship – a giant killing year considering Young was competing against the MRF Skoda S2000’s. Watch it here.
Cusco Racing decided Young was ready to move up to four-wheel drive and turbo power for the 2015 APRC, providing the kiwi with a Group N Subaru Impreza. With support from Dunlop and Sri Lanka’s EZY Racing, Young on his home event in New Zealand was immediately hounding the much faster Skoda S2000’s and only a slip-up on the last corner of the last stage lost him second place by 1.9 seconds!! Young did however finish second at the next event in Queensland Australia, before a big crash in Malaysia nearly put him out for the rest of the championship.
The Cusco mechanics did an amazing job to rebuild the car in time for their home event, Japan’s Rally Hokkaido, where Young rewarded the team with second overall followed by a third place at the China Rally, to once again finish second overall in the driver’s championship. Watch Young’s 2015 APRC Review.
In July 2015, the Elite Motorsport Academy New Zealand invited Young to attend their one-week programme of physical, mental and media training. Daily tests included measuring strength, endurance, flexibility, heat stress tolerance, reaction time and at the end of the course Young was awarded with first prize and top honours – Elite Motorsport Academy winner 2015.
2016 was all about variety. A full APRC campaign again in a Cusco EZY Racing Group N Subaru netted three thirds’ and then a second place at the final round in India, while the China Rally was something completely different.
Young drove a hybrid (battery) powered BYD Quin for the Chinese manufacturer, the first time a vehicle of this type had ever been entered in an international FIA rally. Sixth place and winning the inaugural APRC New Energy Cup for BYD was a definite highlight as was competing in the ERC Estonia Rally with his Indian team-mate Sanjay Takale where they finished second in class. Cusco Racing also provided an opportunity to drive at the Ark Rally, a Japanese National Rally Championship event where Young finished sixth overall. Watch Young’s 2016 APRC Season Review.
In 2017 Young entered the WRC Rally of Australia for the first time, finishing first in the two-wheel-drive category driving a Citroën DS3 R3. Young and co-driver Malcolm Read were 17th overall, against the world’s best drivers in the WRC, and fourth in the Australian Rally Championship behind much faster 4WD turbo cars on the fast-flowing stages of the Coffs Harbour based event.
In 2017 and 2018 Young was entrusted with driving Cusco’s development AP4 car, a 4WD Toyota Yaris with an engine supplied by TRD (Watch here). There were mixed results for Young 2018 as while the car was fast and won many stages outright, it also suffered a number of mechanical failures.
With a podium finish at the Rally of Tsumagoi, a snow rally in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, 2019 got off to a positive start. Part way through 2019 the Cusco Racing team switched Young to a new car - a Toyota C-HR. Young bought the car home first in APRC at its very first event the 2019 Rally Hokkaido, followed by winning the 2019 FIA APRC Asia Cup and Junior Cup at the China Rally a few months later. Watch here.
In 2020 the world changed with the Covid-19 pandemic and so did any chance of competing in international motorsport. However Young was keen not to sit idle and when offered a Subaru Impreza to drive by the Maximum Motorsport team he took the opportunity to compete in the 2020 West Australian Rally Championship, even though one round had already been completed.
Amazingly Young and co-driver Scott Beckwith won the first event the Forest Rally by just 0.5 seconds, followed by a second win on the Karri Rally a month later.
Heading into the final event for championship the Safari Darling Rally, Young’s absence at the championship’s first event meant he still had to rely on his rivals’ results while also winning the event himself. Fortunately for Young, luck was on his side early in the Jarrahdale event.
On the first stage of the event, championship leader, and three-time WA champion, John O’Dowd, crashed out of the event, destroying his Skoda and resulting in Young and Beckwith being crowned 2020 West Australian Rally Champions.
In April 2021 Young returned to New Zealand to live and work, while at the same time taking the opportunity to compete in the New Zealand Rally Championship and experience some of the best rally roads in the world.
After competing at events like Hawkes Bay Rally, South Canterbury and the 2022 Otago Rally Young said, “I’ve really enjoyed competing at home in New Zealand, especially down south (Island) where the awesome gravel roads are a rally driver’s dream’.
Young returned to Japan in June 2022 for the all-tarmac Rally Montre a qualifying round for the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship.
With regular co-driver Malcolm Read moving to Europe to work for M-Sport, 21-year old Amy Hudson took over co-driving duties. Hudson has extensive co-driving experience in New Zealand and quickly adapted to the conditions and culture in Japan.
Young and Hudson finished their first all-tarmac event, 2nd in the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship category and 5th overall driving the Cusco Racing team’s Toyota TRD C-HR.
Conditions on the event were challenging with frequent showers and with recent storms in the area, the road surface was often a mixture of broken tarmac, gravel and mud. It did make tyre selection easy though – Dunlop wet weather tyres were the perfect choice.
Reaching the finish on Day 2 Young and the team were elated “Great to finish my first event on tarmac and learnt a lot. It’s a completely different driving style, especially under braking and the complete opposite to gravel, you do have to change your mind-set. It did take me a while to understand the differences and to have the confidence to push-on. That last stage everything started to come together and that showed in the time”.
Young’s next event is expected to be the 2022 WRC Rally of New Zealand.
First Car: Nissan March Superturbo 1989
First Rally: Rally New Zealand 2011( Age 18)
First Podium Finish: Malaysian Rally Championship 2011 Rd 2 - 1st Junior
Hobbies: Surfing, Rugby, Soccer, Cricket, Cooking and Eating
2nd 2022 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship
1st 2020 West Australian Rally Championship
1st 2019 FIA Asia-Pacific Junior Cup
1st 2019 FIA APRC Asia Cup
1st 2016 FIA Asia-Pacific Junior Cup
1st 2016 FIA Asia-Pacific Production Cup for Drivers
3rd 2016 – Overall FIA APRC Drivers Championship
1st 2015 FIA Asia-Pacific Production Cup for Drivers
2nd 2015 – Overall FIA APRC Drivers Championship
2nd 2014 – Overall FIA APRC Drivers Championship
1st 2013 FIA APRC Asia Cup
1st 2013 FIA APRC Junior Cup