The top emerging talent from New Zealand’s northern rallysprint season in 2020 has been Auckland driver Haydn Mackenzie.
With a motorsport pedigree as diverse as NZV8 Touring Car racing, side-by-side off-road racing and motorcycle extreme enduro events – including the Red Bull Romaniacs – rallying looms as the next challenge for Mackenzie.
He’s been part of the Targa scene in recent years, finding success on tarmac in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10 with wins in the 2019 Targa Hawke’s Bay and Targa New Zealand events.
Then, late in 2019 he sampled gravel at the Hoddle Road Rallysprint and Coromandel Rally, driving an Evo 6.5.
"We had a spin and lost a wheel in the first stage at Coromandel, which were unrelated, and we retired in stage one," said Mackenzie.
"So it’s probably fair to say Rally Bay of Plenty [October 14] is going to be my first rally."
Haydn Mackenzie (left) and co-driver Michael Goudie have finished second in the Northern Rallysprint Series. Photo: Colin Smith
While the New Zealand Rally Championship had been Mackenzie’s initial goal in 2020, the just-completed rallysprint series has provided a fast learning curve at the wheel of the Lancer Evo 9 previously campaigned by Brian Green, Phil Campbell and Raana Horan.
"If I look at photos of our car it looks unspectacular. So, I’ve been driving it corner to corner," Mackenzie said.
"Today [the Piakonui rallysprint] has felt a bit different because there are a lot of linking corners here. That’s new for me and I’m learning a lot."
Mackenzie and co-driver Michael Goudie were part of the front-running battle throughout the Piakonui Road event and finished third overall, behind Graham Featherstone and Emma Gilmour.
The result secured them second place in the ABC Pipe Fitters Northern Rallysprint Series behind Featherstone.
"It’s funny how our goals have changed during the year. We started out aiming for the top 10 and now we’re looking for podiums."
The Piakonui Road rallysprint saw Haydn Mackenzie in a tight battle with series winner Graham Featherstone, Emma Gilmour and Todd Bawden. Photo: Martin Smith
They plan to finish the year at Rally Bay of Plenty and the City of Auckland Rally.
The Auckland event may become a two-car effort with the Evo 9 being used for Saturday’s rally and – if suitable suspension can be sourced - the 550-horsepower six-speed Hollinger equipped Evo 10 could see action at the Jack’s Ridge Rallysprint.
"I’m really looking forward to the rallysprint. The TV coverage and the profile are going to be great for the sport," Mackenzie said.
Mackenzie is the CEO of the Albany Toyota group and a switch of brands looms in the future.
"Sometime in the future it makes sense to get into a Yaris," Mackenzie said.
"But at the moment I am learning and the Evo 9 is a good car for that. There is more time to come from my driving at the moment than from another car.
"We had signed up for the New Zealand Rally Championship before it was cancelled. We’ll move that plan to next year and stick with the Evo 9."
Mackenzie will be eligible for the NZRC Rookie category in 2021.
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