It all came together for Subaru driver Ben Hunt on Saturday as he scored valuable championship points, finishing third overall and second in the points category of today’s Mahindra Goldrush Rally of Coromandel, driving his Subaru WRX STi.
The seven-stage event was headlined by two top international drivers and while Australia’s Brendan Reeves was the winner, WRC contender Hayden Paddon was out of the running, leaving the road on stage four.
As Reeves is not entered in the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC), it left the Kiwi front-runners battling it out for podium positions and maximum points.
Auckland’s Andrew Hawkeswood claimed the runner-up position 28.3secs ahead of Hunt and co-driver Tony Rawstorn, who finished the 135 competitive kilometre event in 1hour:30mins:43.8secs. The result bumps Hunt up from fifth to third in the NZRC with two rounds to go and was the one of those days where everything panned out flawlessly.
“The Subaru ran faultlessly and Tony’s note-reading was perfect. It was an awesome result for the team,” Hunt says.
Rallying on forestry and public roads around the Mercury Bay region, from the Whitianga base, Hunt finished in the top five in four stages. He thoroughly enjoyed the 135km event but says the hardest thing for all teams was how rough the stages were.
“They were quite abrasive and dry around the coastline but the Dunlops worked perfectly.”
Despite rain showers on and off throughout the day, Hunt says the stages were full of spectators, who had made the effort to walk into viewing points and added to the atmosphere.
Hunt’s podium today caps off a string of successful events, begun when he and Rawstorn were second in the NZRC’s third round – the Rally of Canterbury in June. Then in the mid-season break Hunt partnered up with co-driver Jeff Cress for the Rally of the North club event in an older Group A-spec Subaru, where they finished fourth.
Then Hunt achieved his first win in the Subaru WRX STi at Rally Nelson last month.
“It feels fantastic to have the Subaru running well and for that I want to say a big thanks to the crew and all our sponsors. I’m really looking forward to Rally Waikato in the Waitomo region next month with its wide, flowing, open roads – Subaru country!” Hunt says.
New Zealand Rally Championship points
1 Andrew Hawkeswood 88
2 Matt Summerfield 81
3 Ben Hunt 70
4 Rhys Gardner 67
5 David Holder 58