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Wellington well represented in Rally of NZ

September 2008

Wellington well represented in Rally of New Zealand

The Wellington based pairing of Nathan Thomas and Richard Kelly are making a name for themselves in the rally world. Returning for a second season in their Mistubishi Lancer Evo 7, the two came an impressive sixth place in the Rally of New Zealand earlier this month.

Nathan Thomas was destined for a career in racing. “It was something that I’d always wanted to do. I’ve been interested in rallying from a young age.“ Starting in earnest in 2000, his first rally came four years later in 2004. He started winning and people soon took notice. “You make a reputation by winning and getting your name out there. It started as a hobby, building cars and then it got serious really quickly.”

Like many in the field, Nathan first started out as an automotive engineer and currently works as a foreman for GT Continental. Nathan, an automotive graduate from Wellington Institute of Technology (WelTec) has kept up a strong relationship with WelTec since completing his studies. “I studied automotive at WelTec and went on to complete an apprenticeship. Being at WelTec was the best time of my life, I met some great people.”

Last year, two WelTec automotive students had the opportunity to work in the crew for Wilford Motorsports at Rally New Zealand as part of a partnership between Wilford Motorsports and WelTec. This year it was an opportunity of a lifetime for student, Nathan Head.

“WelTec students were really keen to be involved again. Nathan was really good, he was thrown in at the deep end but he enjoyed it. Having a student on board is good fun, it adds variety to the team,” says driver Nathan Thomas.

The New Zealand Rally Championship, held at Mystery Creek, is the penultimate motorsport event on the racing calendar. “The experience was really amazing,” says student Nathan Head. “I really enjoyed myself; it was good working to a tight deadline like that. We had a crew of five working on the car, rotating the tyres, bleeding the clutch and fixing up any panel repair work before the car went back out. Everything fell together quite well – if something falls behind you have to show a certain amount of initiative.”

Currently in his second year at WelTec and now working at Rutherford and Bond Toyota, Nathan Head had little time to get excited. “I found out that I’d be involved a week beforehand. It was something that all the students wanted to be a part of. I've always been into cars. I’d love to be able to get into motorsport – driving or as part of a crew.”

Tony Love, Manager of the Wellington Regional Trade Training and Technology Centre at WelTec, was thrilled when the opportunity arose for WelTec to get involved with the Wilford Motorsports rally team. “Wilford Motorsports has a close affiliation with WelTec. We saw this as a fantastic opportunity to introduce our students and staff to motorsport,” says Tony.


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