Haowen Chu arrived quietly on the Australian rally scene, but quickly became a familiar face to followers of the CAMS Australian Rally Championship.
Given his lack of experience on gravel roads, Chu had an impressive debut year, with a lot of positives to come out of the Chinese driver’s first ever rally season.
While Chu may have been towards the back of the field, he was able to showcase his reliability, finishing most events on the calendar.
Chu’s first ever rally in Ballarat saw him place 16th outright, before securing 11th in Western Australia and seventh in Canberra.
His result in Canberra highlighted his ability to stay focused on the track, with four drivers failing to finish the event.
Tasmania saw him suffer his first mechanical failure for the year, Chu unable to finish the first heat as a result before regrouping and finishing second last in the second heat.
Consistent driving in Adelaide saw the 32-year-old pace 11th and ninth in the heats, before putting in a brilliant drive on the opening day of Rally Australia.
Unfortunately, his weekend came to premature end on the second day of competition, ending his debut year on a sour note.
Western Australia: =11
New South Wales: DNP
Chu can be proud of his first ever season rally, with his best overall finish in Adelaide.
But his most memorable moment likely came when competing for the ARC2 winner takes all finale on the Coffs Coast. With a title on the line, Chu was inspired to drive at his best and signs were promising on day one, finishing inside the top 10 of the Australian contingent and well within reach of the ARC2 title.
It was also the first time that the driver himself had felt comfortable in the car, beating several ARC2 rivals in multiple heats.
Chu’s worst moment came in the same event when his Ford Focus suffered a nasty crash midway through Rally Australia.
As a result, he was unable to take part in the remainder of the event and his ARC2 title hopes were dashed.
What he said:
“I am pretty happy with all the events from 2018.”
“I practiced a lot and I improved my driving so I am happy with the season overall.
“I still think I can do much better so I will need to do a lot of work this year if I am to keep improving.
“Outside of Tasmania and Coffs Harbour, I am proud of finishing all the events.”
Chu has every intention of competing in the 2019 CAMS Australian Rally Championship, with the driver looking to take part in every round this year.
Chu is also having serious thoughts about changing vehicles, with his car currently at a R1 level which he believes really limits his ability.
Chu now has one year under his belt, which will give him the necessary experience to improve. He will no longer be the young kid on the block so he can do much better in 2019.
With that experience and improved machinery, a climb up the field is highly possible.
There will be no expectations for Chu to break into the top five, but there would be no reason to suggest why he couldn’t feature regularly in the top 10 this season.