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Triple New Zealand National Rally Champion (1975-1977), Rod Millen, will return to New Zealand from his US base to drive his own self-built, four-wheel drive Mazda RX7 as part of the Dunlop Rallyfeste weekend, to celebrate four decades of NZ rallying later this month.
 
Millen, who was also Asia Pacific Rally Champion in 1989, continues to compete regularly in New Zealand events such as the Silverstone Race to the Sky at Cadrona. He will share the driving on the Rallyfeste event with his son Rhys, who is also an accomplished motorsport driver.

The Millen father and son pairing is the latest announcement by Dunlop Rallyfeste organisers, and is among the growing list of competitors entered in the rally “event” which will take place over four tarmac special stages in the northern Waikato, and four gravel stages in the “home of rallying”, the Maramarua Forest on Saturday, March 24.
 
The car the Millens will drive has been seen in competition at the Dunlop Ashley Forest Rallysprint where it cleaned up with a hill record in 1988. The specialist car, built to compete with the four-wheel drive Audi Quattros, was used by Millen to win a succession of US rally titles during the 1980’s.
 
Rod, whose CV states “he has an insatiable appetite for competition”, began his motorsport in a Hillman van, before progressing along with his love of surfing and sailing to the Beach Buggy, which when modified, won the 1972 Woodhill Rally.
 
From there followed his three-in-a-row NZ National Championship wins, all in Mazda RX3s, before he moved to California, rallying there, and then taking on the giant of the sport, the Pikes Peak Hillclimb. He won that six times including holding the outright hill record, and titles for father and son, with son Rhys also scoring class wins.
 
Rod, described as being “a mechanical tinkerer”, has a thriving business MillenWorks, which is a respected leader in providing advanced mobility solutions for demanding on-road and off-road applications. MillenWorks has also worked with military applications.

Rod’s son, Rhys, has also competed in New Zealand at the Race to the Sky, and has in recent years taken the sport of Drifting to the USA, where he is recognised as one of the world’s best. He also featured as a stunt driver in the movie The Dukes of Hazzard.

“Rod has always been a part of the celebration weekend’s plans, right from when he agreed to be the guest speaker at the Saturday night dinner function, and to now have both him and son Rhys to compete in the rally event is great for this celebration of the sport’s history,” Dunlop Rallyfeste chairman, Laurie Brenssell, said
 
From his US base Millen said he had been talking with Mike Marshall, and “was looking forward to renewing the old rivalry on the road. We were both top competitors back in the ‘70’s, but now we’ll enjoy the fun, rather than taking things too seriously,” he said.

Further information is available on the Dunlop Rallyfeste website: www.rallyfeste.co.nz
 
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