Ben Hunt Rally Wairarapa 2015 Copyright Jason Byrne -1
Photo credit: Jason Byrne

Ben Hunt – New Zealand Rally Champion 2015

How can I describe in words how much of a fantastic weekend we have just experienced.  It’s been pretty hard as this has taken me longer to write and process than others. The best possible start is that it has been a weekend of first. Over the weekend as a team we have won our first Gold Star New Zealand Rally Championship Title.  I’m really proud to have achieved my goal for the year with such great support around me.  To have Neil Allport and Peter Johnson both at the event 7 years after they picked me as NZ Rising Star Scholarship recipient was just the icing on the cake as a way to repay their faith in me.  Tim Barns-Lawton from Subaru NZ joined the team on the event for the 2nd time this year and it was awesome to be part of the team to help Subaru lift the Manufacturers title for 2015.

Another first for the year was taking 5th position on the road on Saturday morning, after seeing the roads for the first time on Friday the layer of gravel was enough for me to want a lower starting position on the road to allow a sweeping effect to take place and leave a slightly better line to follow for the rally.  With rain falling constantly all night and during the morning stages I have to say that 1st on the road would definitely have been the best place to be, the layer of gravel would of provided extra grip in the wet conditions.

Ben Hunt Rally Wairarapa 2015 Copyright Jason Byrne -2
Photo credit: Jason Byrne

It was a morning loop that was all about enduring, I had to settle my nerves while driving and still maintaining a good enough pace to have a good rhythm in the car.  In honesty it took all morning to really be able to relax and enjoy my driving.  In another first I put a small mark on the car for the first time since I’ve owned it when I bounced o” line in a corner drifting wide and rubbed a fence post in stage 3.  In the afternoon we travelled back over to the traditional Waiarapa stages for the second half of the event.  Here I found a good pace to be driving at all the nerves from the morning stages had left me and I was able to really drive with confidence.  The times started coming and I moved up 4 places in the rally to 4th position.  On Stage 6 we bagged 3 points in the power stage which put the NZ Championship in my corner, it was now secured, and it was job well done.  Two more good stage times saw me hold onto 4th position for the event.

Coming across the finish line of the last stage was an incredible feeling not only the fact we were doing 200kmh but to see Family, Team members, Sponsors, Mentors, Media all waiting gave me a lump in my throat.  Rallying is a team sport and it takes more than just Tony and I in the car to get the results, a lot of time and commitment goes on behind the scenes by everyone who supports me. It’s great to see on their faces the same emotions I’m going through.

Things for now quieten down a little bit but it is still a 2 busy months ahead, I had a sponsors ride day on 17th of October for Total Lubricants.  Planning is also underway for a corporate ride day that will be held in November.  I’ve also got a motocross bike sitting in the shed that hasn’t been receiving anywhere near the amount of love it should have since moving to Auckland this year, so I’ll be out doing some riding during summer keeping my fitness up and my mind sharp.  I can’t say it enough or loud enough; thanks heaps this year for all your support you have all helped me achieve my dream of being New Zealand Rally Champion.  Bring on 2016. Look forward to catching up with you all soon we will put another release out in the next few weeks.

Ben Hunt


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