Powering into Motorsport after 20-years off the road

After a 20 year break Ideal Sales Representative Paul Taylor is back behind the wheel and proving he’s still got what it takes to test the best in competitive motor-sport.

Paul, who joined Ideal in 1995 and services major civil works and network customers in the greater Wellington area, retired from rallying in the mid-90s due to family commitments.

Before his two decade hiatus Paul was a competitive rally driver who scored wins against top ranked drivers on stages of the New Zealand rally championships.

“I raced for 10 years in my younger days and got to quite a high level. Then I had kids. Competitive racing keeps your pockets light and it’s a huge time commitment. With kids, racing took a back seat,” Paul explained.

Despite Paul’s long break from the sport, the desire to compete never left him.

“The last 10 years I’ve been frothing at the bit to race again. Pretty much as soon as the kids left the house I was back into it again,” he said.

With his new found freedom, Paul went looking for the perfect car. Soon he was the proud owner of ‘Helga’ a 1990 5 Series BMW, fitted out with a 5 Litre 7 Series V12 engine. A ‘heavy-duty’ rallying machine.

“I wasn’t expecting to buy a car this big. It’s challenging to drive but that’s what I enjoy about it. You can’t throw it too far sideways. It’s 1.8 tons and, if you do, it just keeps going!”

Paul reckons he’s put the car into a few paddocks since he started racing again but, luckily, there’s been no major damage.

“The car has kicked me a few times but I say, ‘if you’re not going off the road you’re not learning!’”

Jokes aside, getting back into racing after 20 years has required a bit of a learning curve but Paul says it’s a bit like riding a bike – you don’t forget.

“It comes back pretty quickly. I did notice my fitness wasn’t quite there at first. You’ve got to have a reasonable level of fitness, and I still need to work on that, but if you’re a competent driver it comes back soon enough.”

As a member of the Wellington Car Club, Paul attends meetings around the North Island competing in gravel and tarmac sprints in the two-litre vehicle class.

In his first year back he has performed better than he expected. He finished seventh overall in the Hawkes Bay Rally Sprint Series out of 23 competitors, fourth in the two-wheel drive category and second in the over two-litre vehicle class. In the Hawkes Bay Tarmac Sprint Series he finished 22nd out of 41 overall and sixth in the over two-litre vehicle class.

In the Wellington Motorsport Association Gravel Sprint series, while outside commitments meant he could only do three of seven round in the series, he finished 21st out of 45 overall and fourth in his class. His plan for 2017 is to compete in more rounds and go for an even higher ranking.

As Paul points out, motor-sport isn’t the cheapest hobby but he’s grateful for Ideal’s support. The company contributes to Paul’s running costs and helps him get to events around the North Island.

“Ideal is a great support and has a track record of backing motor-sport. The only expectation is that I do as well as I can and continue to perform well. They follow my results and it’s great that they recognise my passion and are prepared to help me develop that,”  he said.