Brian Green, New Zealand’s most experienced rally driver, marks his fortieth year of competition at this year’s International Rally of Whangarei which runs from 2 to 4 July 2010.
The Whangarei-based rally is the third round of both the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship and Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship. Sixty-three year old Green has contested both hard-fought championships numerous times in his 40 years of competition and continues in 2010 as ready as ever to give it his best, adamant he’s not there to make up the numbers.
“I’d like to try catch up to these young New Zealand drivers. They’re going so fast; they’ve just got no fear,” says Green. “So it’d be nice to have a few behind me after Rally of Whangarei, but unfortunately it’s not always possible. Plus I’ve done a deal with Neil Allport to do about ten events with the car this year, so I’ll be driving to make sure I finish and get to start the next one.”
In Whangarei, Green’s driving a brand-new Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X with his Hawke’s Bay co-driver Fleur Pedersen alongside. The popular modern Mitsubishi rally car and professional Allport-run Ralliart service crew is a far cry from Green’s career starter at the 1970 Silver Fern Rally where he was part of a three-car team with eventual winner Paul Adams (Auckland) and Jean-Louis Leyraud (New Caledonia). He has well-etched memories of that initial rally.
“I had Jim Foster with me, as part of the three-car BMW 2002 tii team, Paul (Adams) in the red car, Jean-Louis (Leyraud) in the silver one and we had the orange one,” says Green.
“Those days were pretty long – some of those competitive legs were 20 hours long!” he adds.
Since the ‘70s Green has competed in a huge variety of vehicles from Ford Escorts to the famous Group B works Audi Quattro owned by New Zealand rally stalwart, the late Malcolm Stewart.
“I was going to give up rallying at the end of 1996, and it was words from Neil Allport to apply myself some more, give up the distractions, that I’d probably go better than I had. So during the drive back to Palmerston North thinking about it, led me to buying a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV for 1997. That year we ended up winning the Group A New Zealand championship. After that, I thought there was life after death and that’s where the Ford Escort WRC got talked about – to have a crack at winning the New Zealand championship overall.”
Among his numerous trophies, Green has earned the prestigious 2003 Malaysian Rally Championship crown, having frequented events throughout Asia and the Pacific regions in recent years. Other events include the recent Targa Tasmania and Rally New Zealand which he thinks he’s contested more than 30 times.
“I thoroughly enjoy my motorsport and it’s a form of relaxation for me. We run a fairly big business from Palmerston North so I use motorsport to get away from it all. I hop in the car and drive; nobody can ring you up. No emails, no faxes – you’re on your own – it’s hot.”
When Green and Pedersen cross the start ramp in the International Rally of Whangarei on 2 July, they’ll be joined by teams from a variety of countries such as Indonesia, Japan, India, New Caledonia and Australia. With the event headquarters and service park located at the Quayside Town Basin in downtown Whangarei, the two-day rally uses roads between Whangarei and Paparoa.
Rally fans can meet Green and other star Asia Pacific and New Zealand drivers including the official driver autograph signing session in Whangarei’s Cameron Street Mall from 4pm on Friday 2 July, before the ceremonial start at 5pm.
More details about spectator options are updated on the event website, http://www.rallywhangarei.co.nz/ on a regular basis.
Source: Event Release