MITO Apprentice Joins Motorsport Elite

With support from MITO Ambassadors and Rally Drivers, Hayden Paddon and Emma Gilmour, MITO selects several apprentices to attend New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) events throughout the year. They spend time with the team, support Hayden and Emma with technical requirements and get to experience behind-the-scenes of professional motorsport.

MITO’s first 2024 appearance kicked off at the Otago Rally earlier this month with Brooke Harris, a light automotive engineering apprentice from Invercargill. Motivated by her deep-seated passion for motorsport and a desire to carve out a niche in the industry, Brooke took the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with New Zealand's top rally team.

"I'm really passionate about motorsport. I’d love to make a career out of it," she explained. “With motorsport, a lot of it involves who you know and making connections. I thought, what a great experience with the best Rally Team in New Zealand.”

“I was a bit of a fan girl! I’ve looked up to Hayden and Emma for so long, so it was just so cool to get involved, being in the middle of everything, all the crowds.”

The nitty gritty of the rally involved a lot of servicing, often within a small amount of time. “Sometimes, we only had an hour to work on the car. Sometimes it was forty-five minutes. Sometimes it was fifteen minutes! It was a real time crunch and you just had to focus on keeping calm, making sure you're communicating with the rest of the team to make sure everything gets done on time.”

“I was working on Emma’s car with Mercedes [who was chosen to represent MITO at NZRC in 2022] and our chief mechanic, Ollie. He looked after any big damage and the engine bay and then me and Mercedes took a side of the car each to change wheels, do bolt checks and clean the car. If we had time, we would swap and check over each other’s stuff.”

Brooke was able to draw from her previous involvement in motorsport, including working as a mechanic at the Castrol Toyota Racing Series and volunteering her time on racing weekends, but explained that the team was helpful and supportive if she didn’t know how something worked.

"The team was so good to work for," she noted, highlighting the camaraderie and professionalism. “Everyone got on so well, I felt like I'd known them forever.”

Looking ahead, Brooke views her participation in the Otago Rally as a pivotal milestone in her career. "To have that as an experience will definitely give people a good idea of how I can work within teams.”

For MITO apprentices interested in applying for other rallies this year, Brooke says to just do it. “If you can take the opportunity, do it because it doesn’t matter if you're interested in motorsport or not, it's such a good experience and you'll learn so much. You won't forget it.”

Our applications are still open for three more NZRC rallies in 2024: Southland, Daybreaker (Palmerston North) and Whangarei. Apply now here before they close!