Ben Hunt’s season of consistency and quick pace has paid dividends, with the ecstatic Subaru WRX STi driver winning his first Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) title today.
Staying true to his word to finish each rally of the six-round series, he cruised to fourth place in the eight-stage Trusthouse Racetech Daybreaker Rally Wairarapa. After the early morning nerves settled, he and co-driver Tony Rawstorn blazed home, winning the penultimate stage and finishing second on the eighth and final test.
“It’s a fantastic result. It’s awesome. I don’t know if I am going to be able to sleep tonight,” Auckland-based Hunt says.
A former 2WD and Junior National Rally Champion, the 27-year-old only needed to finish 16th or better to secure his maiden national title today.
Hunt says the butterflies in his stomach were there before he won his first NZRC event – coincidentally at the Daybreaker Rally Wairarapa in 2013 – and they were amplified today as he closed in on his debut championship. He admits to being “a little bit shaky this morning and going a bit slower” than the storming pace, which has seen him win the three previous NZRC rounds.
“I just want to thank all those people from 2009, who chose me for the Rally New Zealand Rising Stars Scholarship – Chris Carr, PJ [Peter Johnston], Marty Roestenburg, Neil Allport and Wal Dumper. They believed in me and it is so incredible to reward them with this title win,” Hunt says.
He had a whole lot of gratitude for his team Hunt Motorsports and also for his sponsors – Winger Subaru, Total Oils, Gull, Dunlop, Hydraulink, Neil Allport Motorsport, CL Brakes, Front Store, Highfield Romney, Strait Shipping, Magnum Compliance, Brooks Auto Painters, AMPD, Body Talk Nelson, Wurth, MTF Finance, Tasman Bay Chiropractor, E & H Motors, Southlink Logistics, Nelson Brakes, Pro Diesel Engineering and The Body Shop.
Hunt reserved a special mention for “one of [his] best mates” Rawstorn, who also wins the 2015 national co-driver’s title.
“A huge thanks to Tony. When I started with him in 2010, he hadn’t done a rally. He was an awesome co-driver right from the word go.”
While Hunt enjoys celebrating the season’s victory tonight, fellow Subaru driver Matt Summerfield, of Rangiora, and his co-driving sister Nicole were revelling in their debut rally win. They bought their Impreza over the finish line 23.4secs ahead of David Holder, with Emma Gilmour in third for the event.
Te Aroha’s Lance Williams (21) finished fourth overall for the NZRC in his Subaru WRX R4 and also won the Junior Rally Championship title over Summerfield.