Nelson Subaru driver Ben Hunt mastered the challenging Eastern Bay of Plenty stages including the infamous Motu Road to take victory in the FUCHS Rally Gisborne, the fourth round of the 2015 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship.
Hunt and co-driver Tony Rawstorn lead the event from start to finish with a commanding display of fast and measured driving, including setting the fastest time of 41 minutes and 03 seconds over the 47 kilometre Motu test. The victory also extends Hunts lead in the 2015 NZRC title chase.
“We are rapt with the result and to grab another round win,” stated Hunt at the rally finish. “That was my first time at racing the Motu and I’m glad we only do it once a year,” he joked at the end of the 47 kilometre monster stage. “After 47 kilometres and over 41 minutes in the car you know you’ve been working,” exclaimed Hunt.
Te Aroha Subaru driver Lance Williams secured second overall 2 minutes and 54 seconds behind Hunt after fending off a last stage challenge by Auckland’s Andrew Hawkeswood. Williams and co-driver Raymond Bennett moved into second with an impressive second quickest time through the Motu then held out the fast finishing Hawkeswood by a slender 9.4 seconds at rally end.
Third overall for Hawkeswood is the first podium finish for his new generation Mazda 2 rallycar and a great reward after showing impressive speed in previous rounds of the championship but retiring due to technical issues.
Rangiora brother and sister team Matt and Nicole Summerfield stole fourth position on the final stage of the rally from Dunedin’s Emma Gilmour in her Suzuki Swift. The top six finishers were completed by Rotorua Mitsubishi driver Sloan Cox on his return to the championship.
The demanding Eastern Bay of Plenty stages provided plenty of drama with championship contender Phil Cambell sidelined after the opening stage with a centre diff failure. It was a disappointing early retirement for Campbell who still remains second in the championship but now with a larger points deficit to Hunt. Te Aroha driver Graeme Featherstone was holding third overall when a diff failure ended his impressive run on the third special stage.
Auckland Mitsubishi driver Dylan Turner and co-driver Malcolm Read were the fastest pairing over the opening section of the Motu stage and were on course to challenge Hunt on the stage before a broken axle slowed the pair. Greater problems were to come when their Mitsubishi then hit a large rock in a water crossing. The damage sustained stranded the car in the water crossing ending their day.
The BNT Historic category was the domain of Kaiapoi’s Marcus Van Klink and co-driver Dave Neill in their Group B Mazda RX7. The Canterbury pairing finished an impressive eight overall and also first two wheel drive edging out Hawkebay Ford Fiesta driver Max Bayley winner of the FIA 2WD category by 2.9 seconds. Former national champion Brian and Anne Stokes (Canterbury – Ford Escort RS1800) finished second in the Historic category with Tauranga’s Andy Martin and Matt Hayward completing the podium.
The Gull Rally Challenge 4WD category victory went to Auckland Mitsubishi husband and wife team Kinglsey and Waverly Jones. The Jones pair inherited victory on the final stage when category leader Darren Galbraith retired when he lost a wheel on his Mitsubishi Lancer. Adding to the drama on the final stage was Daniel Walker who rolled his Subaru but managed to reach the finish to take second in the Challenge class with Gisborne driver Hugh Spence in third.
Kaikoura’s Regan and Nigel Ross were winners of the Gull Rally Challenge 2WD class in their Ford Escort ahead of Toyota of Justin Glavish and Michele Brunt in second and Jeff Torkington and Rodney James in third.
Hunt now takes a 42 point lead in the championship over Campbell while Williams moves into third place, ahead of Summerfield and then Historic Class leader Van Klink also fifth overall. The next round of the 2015 Brian Green Property Group NZ Rally Championship is the Mahindra Goldrush Rally of Coromandel on Saturday 22nd August.
2015 Brian Green Property Group NZ Rally Championship points after 4 rounds of 6.
1. Ben Hunt (Nelson- Subaru) 126 points
2. Phil Campbell (Tauranga – Mitsubishi) 84
3. Lance Williams (Te Aroha – Subaru) 71
4. Matt Summerfield (Rangiora – Subaru) 63
5. Marcus Van Klink (Canterbury – Mazda) 61