Motorsport: Kiwi speedway star Michael Pickens puts rally driving skills to test

Over the past two decades, Michael Pickens has competed in the top midget and sprint car races in Australasia and the United States. 

But this weekend, the nine-time national midget champion took on a new challenge - competing in his first ever rally.

Up against some of New Zealand's top drivers in the quickest late-model AP4 vehicles, Pickens took to the course in his trusty old DX Corolla.

"This is like a childhood car to me," Pickens tells Newshub.

The rear-wheel drive Toyota classic is a very different beast to what he's used to racing and unlike the usual two turns left around an oval, this challenge involved 127km of special stages across North Canterbury.

"People have been giving me stick about having to turn right, as well as left," Pickens admits. "The biggest thing for me is getting used to the pace notes and what they mean."

When formalities got underway, the speedway star was like a duck to water, at least for the first 15km, before he ran his Corolla into a tree.

"I made a bit of a 'boo boo'," Pickens laughs. "But man, I was having the time of my life.

"Everything felt really natural, to be honest, and didn't feel as awkward as I thought it would."

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