By Ben Hunt
I can’t believe the opening round of the 2019 New Zealand Rally Championship is less than a week away – this Summer / Offseason has gone by so quickly.
I was invited again to be a part of the Leadfoot Festival. It’s such an awesome event run over a weekend with timed runs on Saturday and knock out runs on Sunday. Rod Millan and his team are building year by year on the success of the event. It’s attracting even more overseas competitors and is quickly becoming a must-do event on everyone’s calendar.
This year was the tarmac debut for the ‘white pointer’ Subaru. I had an absolute ball on all my timed runs. I managed to find a couple of short cuts across the grass (I am a rally driver after all), missed almost every apex while firing the car backwards into the turns and even lightly rubbed a hay bale. I received a lot of excited comments about the driving style ;). It’s great to be out there meeting the fans and catching up with motorsport enthusiasts.
This offseason the Hunt Motorsport team have continued with developments on the NZRC Subaru WRX STI. I’m really excited to see how everything pays off out in the stages. Some good gains have been made in the weight distribution and traction of the car. At a recent test, the feedback and responsiveness from behind the wheel were just awesome. We have also completed a full refresh of the car in the paint and panel department keeping it looking stunning in the Subaru Blue.
I’m wrapped to be continuing my relationship with Subaru New Zealand. It’s a real pleasure to be campaigning a production based car in the New Zealand Championship. We are one of the only teams in category one where you can walk into a showroom any day of the week and buy a car that shares 100% DNA with our rally car.
Rally Otago returns as the first event on this year’s calendar. The roads in Otago are amazing to drive, typically wider flowing with blind crests making up every stage. Two radical event seeding orders have been proposed this year by the organising team. Thankfully one turned out to be a very well-timed April Fool’s joke. However, there is still a huge shakeup in the road order and this year NZRC will run after the two Classic Rally classes. This will mean we will be around the 60th car on the road. It’s going to be extremely difficult to know what the road conditions will be like, however, there will be a swept line formed but to always follow it can be a risk. 2wd classic cars have a completely different driving and cornering style. Large rocks may also be present in corners from being pulled out onto the road by the earlier cars passing through. The rally runs on both Saturday and Sunday with points being awarded for the finishing position of each leg, overall and the power stage.
Every event this year has points counted towards the overall championship result. It’s going to be vital to bank points at every round so I’m looking to get my 2019 campaign off to the best possible start.
Keep up to date with our progress this weekend at Ben Hunt Motorsport or follow the rally stage times over on Chrissport if your spectating this weekend you can get your Otago Rally map here and your Hunt Motor Sport supporter gear here!