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Young rally-driver Dylan Thomson is determined to kick-start his 2017 New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) campaign with a strong result in his completely rebuilt Ford Fiesta at the iconic Rally of Otago, held this weekend in Dunedin.

As one of the youngest drivers in the domestic championship at just 22-years-old, Thomson from Waiuku is simply looking to score points at the first round in order to meet his season goal of finishing with points at every rally of the six-round series and says his focus is on the entire season, rather than each individual rally.

“This year our main focus is development and simply getting better at each rally. I know that sounds cliché but it’s important for our team this year focussing on our own progress is something I learnt at the Hyundai Young Drivers Shootout with Hayden [Paddon],” said Thomson.

During the off season, Thomson and his co-driver Amy Hudson of Christchurch were selected as one of five crews to take part in the Hyundai Young Drivers Shootout with World Rally Championship driver Hayden Paddon, which Thomson says taught him a lot.

“Doing the shootout was really rewarding for Amy [Hudson] and I. We learnt a lot from everyone there and got a lot of confidence from driving the Hyundai AP4 car and got some helpful tips from Hayden [Paddon]. We’re hoping we can use things that we learnt there to be competitive in the NZRC,” said Thomson.

Thomson’s Ford Fiesta ST has also undergone a full rebuild during the summer to ensure it’s also competitive. The team stripped the car down to a bare shell, before being sand-blasted and painted by Absolute Spray Painting, having its suspension and gearbox upgraded by Speed Hub Motorsport and Kayne Barrie Motorsport, while also giving it a new look thanks to Harrier Signs at the same time.

“Honestly, there wasn’t much that wasn’t looked at or changed on this car. We’re aiming for reliability and points at every round so we spent a lot of time getting it right.

“The setup is still effectively the same as last year though, because M-Sport [original builders] made such a good base and it would be silly to change too much from all their research and development,” explained Thomson.

Thomson is again joined by young Canterbury co-driver, Amy Hudson, who says she is looking forward to the challenge of the year ahead.

“I just can’t wait to be back in the car! It’s been such a long time and I’ve definitely missed it. I know it will be a full-on year so we’ll have to stay focussed but we’re lucky to have such good support from so many people, which will help,” said Hudson.

While this event is the duo’s second time at Rally of Otago, they both say they enjoy the roads and have more idea of what to expect.

“Last year, it [Rally Otago] was new for both of us but it should be a little easier this year. Plus we know we will enjoy the roads and have the added benefit of two experienced co-drivers with Amy’s [Hudson] mum and dad, who give us tips on the places to watch out for, or places to really push it,” said Thomson.

Rally of Otago gets underway at the ceremonial start on Friday 7 April from 5.00pm in Dunedin’s iconic Octagon, before crews start the 292 competitive stage kilometres at 7.30am on Saturday 8 April. The event consists of 14 closed special stages over two days around Dunedin, before finishing at the Dunedin Railway Station at approximately 3.00pm on Sunday 9 April.

- Team release

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