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New Zealand co-driver academy class of 2019 announced

Rhianon Gelsomino will be one of the co-driver coaches. Photo: Michael Stenhjem

Rally New Zealand has announced the six co-drivers who have been selected to participate in the 2019 Rally New Zealand Co-driver Academy, to be held in Auckland on April 5-7.

This year the Academy is being run pre season to allow entrants to apply their knowledge for a full season.

2019 marks the third occasion that Rally New Zealand has run the academy which sees co-drivers train with experienced professionals Alex and Rhianon Gelsomino on all aspects of the co-driving role.

The pair have forged careers competing all around the world and have included victories in rounds of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship.

In addition to the expert training provided by Alex and Rhianon the participants also receive instruction and advice from a number of other experienced local rally competitors and officials as part of the three-day programme.

“We’re very excited to announce this year’s successful applicants. This year’s successful applicants have a broad range of experience and we’ve got a number of younger co-drivers with very strong goals moving forward which is great to see. We know that this group will benefit immensely from training with Alex and Rhianon,” said Paul Mallard, chairman Rally New Zealand.

“Rally New Zealand has a proud history of supporting the development of competitors in rallying and we look forward to seeing the progression of this group following in the footsteps of several other competitors who have had support from Rally New Zealand in the past.

“These include the likes of Ben Hunt who won the first Rally New Zealand Rising Stars Scholarship and has gone on to win several classes in the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship culminating in the overall championship in 2015.

“Supporting the development of the sport at its highest level is something that we feel strongly about, and this means supporting current top-level competitors as well as those who have a clear ambition and plan to achieve this level.”

The six successful applicants are:

Jared Hudson – Christchurch – Finished second in the NZRC Two-wheel drive class in 2018, stepping up to the Gull Rally Challenge Four-wheel drive class in 2019. Jared follows his sister Amy through the co-driver academy who was in the 2018 intake.

Alex Parkin – Auckland – Co-drove with Jack Hawkeswood in the NZRC Two-wheel drive class in 2018, including a podium finish. The pair will step up to the outright four-wheel drive class in 2019 driving an AP4 Mazda 2.

Michele Brunt – Warkworth – Long-time co-driver with names including Stephen Barker and Rod Millen, also a long-time Clerk of the Course and event organiser. Preparing for a 2019 Gull Rally Challenge campaign with Justin Glavish.

Brianna Little – Auckland – Has co-driven for multiple experienced drivers in rallies and testing. The daughter of prominent former competitor and current car preparation expert Chris “Choice” Little, she is looking to move up to the NZRC in 2019.

Nathan Pilcher – Auckland – Currently co-driving with Andy Gillies in the Gull Rally Challenge two-wheel drive class following success competing as a driver in circuit racing as well as rallying.

Zoe Jones – Auckland – Currently co-driving with Amy Keighley in the NZRC Two-wheel drive class. One of three rally competitors in the Thames Valley based Jones family.

“Unfortunately as always there were more applicants than spaces available, and we hope to see those that missed out this time work with the feedback provided and to see them apply again in the future,” Mallard added.

“This year, as was the case last year, we have some successful applicants who had previously applied and missed out, this reinforces the dedication needed to succeed in the sport.”

The 2019 Rally New Zealand Co-drivers Academy takes place in Auckland from April 5-7.

The six attendees will receive professional training in all aspects of the co-driver’s role including practical pace note writing exercises, event planning, fitness training and media promotional activities.

This article is a press release supplied to RallySport Magazine from an event, team, or media outlet.

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