On debut with a brand new Chinese team (FCACA), New Zealander Tony Green and Brisbane’s John Allen have taken a remarkable second place in the 1st round of the Chinese Rally Championship.  The duo only trailed current British Rally Championship leaders, David Higgins and Leuan Thomas, by 37 seconds for the weekend.

It would be unlikely you would have heard of Tony Green, as he is an overnight sensation nine years in the making, after leaving his native New Zealand to travel to the UK to pursue his dream of becoming a professional driver.  Green survived with little or no money while working as professional motorsport coach, and competing in the British Rally Championship in 2005, as well as competing on the European and English drift circuits.  

After years of relentlessly pursuing opportunities he was given his dream chance to be the lead driver of one of three Prodrive WRX Sti’s the team has purchased.

“I am so impressed with Tony’s driving.  He is so precise and neat under braking and carries maximum corner speed, yet we never had so much as a moment anywhere for the whole day and we came away with second against quality opposition. It seemed all too easy,” Allen said.

Naturally, at the last service the team were elated with their position, until draining the gearbox oil revealed a couple of pieces of metal.  “I was gutted. I knew there was no time to change the gearbox and it was a case of when, not if, the gearbox was going to seize.”

This happened much quicker than expected.  As the car was reversed into parc feme for the night the gearbox decided enough was enough and dropped all its oil.  

“Our only option was to replace the gearbox in the 20 minute Sunday morning service.  The big problem is none of our Chinese mechanics had ever worked in a rally team, let alone changed a gearbox under pressure.”

It was decided that the team would go back to the workshop and do four practice gearbox changes that night on the spare Prodrive car at the workshop.  On Sunday morning the service crew came out firing and changed the box in an amazing 17 minutes.  

“The cheering and emotions was amazing, and at this point I realised we were a genuine rally team now that had gained the respect of the established teams in this Championship,” Allen added.

After the first service we took the second fastest time behind David Higgins and team management asked if we could push harder and try to take the win!  The previous day they were only hoping for a top ten finish.  

“Undertaking team orders, we pushed for a further three seconds faster than our best stage, but the following stage we had a slight indiscretion, bouncing off a curb and bending two wheels.  At this point we thought we should be happy with our second place.

“Not only have we been rewarded with champagne and trophies, but our team owner has entered us in the World Rally Championship round in New Zealand at the end of August, as well as the remaining rounds of the Chinese Championship.  After the start we have had I am predicting this team, and Tony Green, has a big future.”

It was a very successful weekend for the Brisbane based co-drivers in Shanghai, with John Allen taking second, Anthony McLoughlin taking third with his regular driver, Dong, and Chris Murphy finishing fourth with Dean Herridge.

Plenty of celebrations for Tony Green and John Allen.
The new Chinese team will now tackle Rally New Zealand.

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