Allport – tyres won’t decide 2024 championship

One of the brightest minds in New Zealand rallying is predicting whoever gets their head around the new MRF control tyre will have the best shot at winning this year’s championship.

The new MRF tyre – the first control tyre in the history of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, provided a terrific first up rally at Otago with little separating the leading contenders, particularly by the end of the rally where rally winner Jack Hawkeswood, runner-up Robbie Stokes and third-placed Ben Hunt trading times back and forth on day two.

Former national champion Neil Allport thinks the new control tyre won’t alter the balance of power in the championship but could become a distraction if drivers get too cute around them.

“They are all round and black at the end of the day,” Allport said on the Otago Rally livestream.  “The biggest change is in their head as a driver. It is not about doing this with the car or that with the car to get the most out of them.

“I know from talking to Ben [Hunt] it is a head space thing, but the other two young boys [Hawkeswood and Stokes] are getting on with it and that is showing on the time sheets.”

Allport, who won the championship three times, was encouraged by what he saw from the season opening event and thinks the title fight is wide open.

“I think the real enjoyable thing was young Jack and Robbie – really, really impressive.

“Two guys that have been quite indifferent, I have to say – and they would agree with me, in the past years but both of them have really come well and are driving extremely well.

“Both cars are reliable, which is great to see.

“Ben will continue to get better once he gets more confidence with his big change of tyre so he will definitely be in the mix as well.

“It is good for the sport. We came down to Otago talking among ourselves about great entries but where is the depth going to come from and I think we have seen some of that over the weekend.”

Round two of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship takes place in South Canterbury this weekend.


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The New Zealand Rally Championship is this country’s premier nationwide rally championship. It attracts New Zealand’s best drivers to compete in numerous categories for the prestigious MotorSport New Zealand-sanctioned rally championship titles. In 2024, there are six NZRC rounds, each with a unique character reflecting the diverse regions – from Northland to Invercargill