Campbell gearing up for rally big league

With three weeks until the opening round of the 2014 National Rally series, Tauranga driver Phil Campbell is making the most of the National Hillclimb Championships to prepare.

While ineligible for the national championships after missing an earlier round,
Phil was happy with his performance at last weekend’s final round in Gisborne where he finished second in the gravel leg in his new race car, a Mitsubishi Evo 9.

Photo by Jason Byrne

“That’s right where I think I should be. I’m pretty happy with how I went given the limited time I’ve had in the car.”

Despite the change in power from his Ford Fiesta R2 (almost 170bhp) to his new Evo (more than 300bhp), Phil says the adjustment in cars from a 2wd to a 4wd was relatively smooth.

“From the Fiesta, I’m used to cornering at speed because it was so light, so it’s just a matter of getting used to the added power.”

Since picking up the car a few months ago he has raced it at a handful of events – including hillclimb championship events in Hawkes Bay and Waihi, along with the Motorsport BOP Day-Night Gravel Sprints at Te Matai Motorport Park, which he won on March 8.

“We’re feeling good for the season ahead and have set ourselves the goal of finishing in the top five. It looks like it’s going to be one of the toughest fields yet, but we’re
up for it.”

Fellow Tauranga driver David Holder is also stepping up from the 2wd to 4wd class in the New Zealand rally championship, swapping his Fiesta for a Mitsubishi Evo 8 previously owned by David’s mentor and top international rally driver Hayden Paddon.

Talking about the new phase in his driving career, after a year competing in the national championship’s 2wd class, he says it was a dream only two years ago and expects it to be a “fairly steep learning curve”.

The six round rally series begins with the International Rally of Whangarei on April 12.


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