Speedway champion Michael Pickens to contest Rally Canterbury
Multi-NZ speedway champion Michael Pickens will contest the one-day Lone Star Canterbury Rally on Sunday 6 June 2021. The nine-time Midget car and current NZ Sprintcar champion will drive a Stadium Finance Toyota Corolla DX in his first ever car rally with Christchurch’s Stephen Lloyd in the co-driver’s seat.
No stranger to competing on dirt and going sideways, Pickens is looking forward to the new challenge.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” commented Pickens. “’I’ve got no idea what I am doing so have lots to learn. I’m not concerned about the driving, it’s more about the pace notes and getting my head around a whole new discipline.”
Not only does Pickens have to get used to having pace notes (directions) read out from his co-driver but also the fact that the roads will be new and not used continuously.
“I’ve been competing at Western Springs (Speedway) now for 23-years so quite familiar with the track. There’s not going to be any practice time leading up to the rally, so it will be a matter of easing into it and getting comfortable and not getting carried away.
“It’s the perfect car (Toyota Corolla DX) to have a go in and get used to rallying. It won’t be blistering fast, but it will be powerful enough and its rear-wheel driver.”
It’s not the first time that Tony Gosling from Stadium Finance has backed someone new to rallying having been involved in the early stages of Greg Murphy’s foray into the sport.
“I’m really grateful to Tony for the opportunity,” said Pickens. “While I’m still committed to speedway, the lack of overseas travel has allowed me to do some of these things, so really looking forward to it.”
The Canterbury Rally is the third round of the 2021 Mainland Rally Championship and consists of seven special stages totalling 134 kms on forestry and public gravel roads. The first car starts from Joe’s Garage, Alfred St, Rangiora at approximately 8:30am on Sunday 6th June, finishing at approximately 6pm at the Lone Star, Manchester St, Christchurch.