2009 Queensland Rally Champion Matt van Tuinen is embarking on a new challenge across the Tasman, competing in the Drivesouth Rally of Otago from 8-10 April. This is the first round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship.

The event marks a change for the VTRacing team, which has achieved top 5 results in the Australian Rally Championship over the last few years. It will be the first overseas event for Matt and his co-driver Nathan Long.

Matt explains, “Late last year we purchased a Subaru WRX STi in New Zealand from Possum Bourne Motor Sport, and we’ve decided to do some events in NZ rather than bring it back to Australia straight away.”

The Rally of Otago is better known as a classic rally, with many entries from Australia in the classic section but van Tuinen’s entry is the first in the outright New Zealand Championship for many years.

“The NZRC has a strong reputation as a national rally championship, with some very fast drivers competing there. I see this as a fantastic opportunity to run on the great roads around Dunedin against world class opposition.”

But the VTRacing crew are under no illusions as to the challenge that lies ahead, “It would be unrealistic to expect to be on the pace straight away, given the unique challenges of the NZ Championship: not only are the roads very different to what we’re used to, but the series only allows a one-pass reconnaissance with supplied notes which will be quite difficult to get our heads around.”

“There are competitors here who’ve done the event many times and have many years of pacenotes and knowledge to build on,” he continued. “I think if we can run at a safe pace for the event and bring the car home I’ll consider it a successful debut.”

The entry for the Rally of Otago was bolstered recently by the announcement that former NZ Rally Champion and current PWRC competitor Hayden Paddon would enter the event in a Subaru, “Certainly having Hayden there will be a great benchmark for us, especially since he dominated the PWRC category in Portugal”, explains Matt, “but there are many other fast drivers to watch out for, like Richard Mason and Emma Gilmour, who both have good results at the international level”.

The event begins with three night stages run on Friday 8 April, and concludes on Sunday 10 April.

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