Force Motorsport driver Andrew Hawkeswood has come home a strong runner up at the winner takes all final of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, the Longyou Rally in China, held over the weekend, a result that has spearheaded New Zealand’s victory in the FIA APRC Nations Cup.
Force Motorsport sent two Mazda 2s to the event, built to the AP4 specification that the team have been instrumental in designing and producing, for father and son team Andrew and Jack Hawkeswood. Despite their significant difference in experience, Jack having only driven a four-wheel drive car for the first time this year, both were taking on a new challenge of rallying in China.
An unfortunate start to the event saw Jack and co-driver Alex Parkin stop for more than 25 minutes in special stage two with an electrical problem, although he was able to repair the car in stage and continue, but his dreams of an APRC title were shattered before they had begun. They would recover across the afternoon, including a pair of stage wins in the final two stages of day one. His rally would end after the opening stage of day two, when he hit a rock and was unable to repair the damage on the road-side.
It was also a tricky morning for Andrew and co-driver Jeff Cress, who suffered a spin and a puncture but sat third by the first service, a position they would maintain across the remainder of the opening day. The second day saw a far more positive start, moving into second on the opening stage of the day as heavy rain turned an already tricky rally into a treacherous one. Calling on more than 20 years of rallying experience, Hawkeswood was able to bring the car home in second, more than a minute and a half ahead of the third place car.
The result for Hawkeswood senior, plus bonus points scored by Jack on the opening stage and pace setter Mike Young, who was cruelly denied victory by an electrical problem, also meant New Zealand came out on top in the Nations Cup of the APRC, the first time the trophy has been presented.
“Obviously it would’ve been really good to get the win, but certainly with the rain thrown in, just finishing was quite an achievement in its own right so second place is really satisfying,” says Andrew.
“It’s a real shame that Jack couldn’t make it to the end, but I’m sure he’s learnt a heap rallying off-shore and it was a really proud moment to see him take a couple of stage wins. Also we’re gutted for Mike, he was really quick all weekend, but it’s pretty awesome that we’ve all been able to contribute to New Zealand winning the Nations Cup, as a country we’ve really got behind the new APRC format and it’s a great reward.”
The team will now get the cars back to New Zealand and regroup for a 2020 campaign that will likely include the return of the World Rally Championship to the shores of New Zealand.
by BB Media