Hunt the champion and maiden victory for Summerfield
Auckland based Ben Hunt and co-driver Tony Rawstorn have claimed their first national rally championship title after a conservative drive in one of the most closely fought rounds of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship in recent memory, which saw Rangiora brother and sister Matt and Nicole Summerfield take the round victory.
Hunt came to the round needing only to record a 16th place finish and never showed the form that has seen him take maximum points in four of this seasons, but was always in a position that would see him claim a first national championship.
“It’s not even a dream, I could never have imagined this after it all started when I won the Rally New Zealand Rising Stars Scholarship seven years ago. I just really have to thank everyone that trusted me across that time that has made this happen,” said a jubilant Hunt.
Meanwhile Summerfield, who picked first on the road at the pre-event start order draw, took the lead on stage two after a major charge through the infamous Ridge Road, where he took the lead off stage one winners David Holder and Jason Farmer.
Summerfield held the edge across the morning before heavy gravel hampered him and Holder was able to chase down the gap, which had been as much as 37 seconds at the lunch, down to 0.7 seconds going into the final stage.
An epic battle loomed between two of the sports rising stars through the final stage and in the end, a spin from Holder would decide the fight between the pair in Summerfield’s favour.
“It’s just unbelievable to win after a hard year we’ve had at times, it’s a testament to all the team and the sponsors that made this happen,” said Summerfield.
Behind the leading duo, Dunedin’s Emma Gilmour showed her best pace of the season to record a solid third place in her Suzuki Swift Maxi.
In the class battles, Kaiapoi’s Marcus van Klink took a dominant victory after both Andy Martin and Tony Gosling struck troubles. The result also secured van Klink a third NZRC historic title.
The four-wheel drive Gull Rally Challenge was dominated by Darren Galbraith, who lead home series champion Richard Bateman and series runner up Tyler Radovan.
A hot pace in the two-wheel drive Gull Rally Challenge saw Anthony Jones take the win ahead of the similar Ford Escort of Regan Ross, while third place was enough to secure the title for Justin Glavish and Michele Brunt in their Toyota Starlet.
2015 Brian Green Property Group NZ Rally Championship – Final championship points standings:
1. Ben Hunt/Tony Rawstorn (Subaru – Auckland) 152 points
2. Phil Campbell/Venita Fabbro (Mitsubishi – Tauranga) 123
3. Matt & Nicole Summerfield (Subaru – Rangiora) 110
4. Lance Williams/Crunch Bennett (Subaru – Te Aroha) 106
5. Emma Gilmour/Anthony McLaughlin (Suzuki – Dunedin) 86