4WD Rally Challenge mid-season update
The Rally Challenge 4WD class within the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship is one of the most competitive and has already delivered a thrilling ride for fans so far.
The Challenge is designed as a gateway class into the full NZRC, with competitors only scoring points on the opening day of the two day events, while the best two scores from the first four rounds plus the season finale combine to find a winner at year’s end.
It all kicked off at Otago with Jonty Brenssell blitzing the field in the opening stage and making everyone sit up and take notice.
Unfortunately for Jonty, it all came unstuck on the next stage and his charge came to a sudden end against a tree.
Youngster Zeal Jones pushed defending champ Jeff Ward hard over the weekend while veteran driver Brian Green showcased his talents by winning the power stage.
Tim Smith was also very quick in the Subaru H6.
In the end, Ward survived a major scare right at the end of the super special stage to take 30 points, Green picked up 27 and Smith 23 while a mistake saw Jones off the road and out of the points.
It was the youngster Jones that prevailed at round two in Whangarei however as he calmly navigated his way to 29 points in a career-defining performance.
Ward scored 27 points with none of the other main contenders scoring heavily, although David Sievers fired a serious warning shot at his rivals with his early pace.
Ward struck drama late in the day at Rally South Canterbury with a fuel leak and left empty-handed, leaving the other contenders to fight it out.
Smith, who missed Whangarei, was superb once again in the Subaru H6 and left Timaru with a win and 28 valuable points.
Jones was strong again, picking up 25 points to roar back into title contention, while Paul Cross, James Macdonald, Nick Marston and Amy Keighley all banked a good haul of points in their Subaru H6s.
With two rounds remaining in the championship, Ward holds a narrow lead of just three points over Jones with Smith a further three points further adrift.
Cross and Macdonald remain in the fight as well – 13 and 14 points off the title lead respectively.