Battle pack at front to resume championship fight in South Canterbury

Championship contenders Jack Hawkeswood, Robbie Stokes and Ben Hunt will continue their battle at the second round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship in South Canterbury on Saturday.

The trio were separated by very little at the opening round in Otago last month and will battle it out on the super-fast South Canterbury gravel roads in eight special stages across the day.

Hawkeswood claimed a break-through maiden NZRC win in his Force Motorsport Toyota GR Yaris at Otago but was shadowed all weekend by fellow young gun Stokes in his Stokes Motorsport Ford Fiesta AP4.

Two-time national champion Hunt got better and better as the weekend went on in his Skoda New Zealand Fabia Rally 2, which produced an epic three-way battle on the Sunday at Otago.

Seven-time national champion Hayden Paddon returns to the championship in what is effectively a home event after missing Otago. He will peddle the Hyundai New Zealand i20 AP4 at this event and will start as a clear favourite.

Emma Gilmour (Vantage NZ Citroen C3), Zeal Jones (Smith & Sons Skoda Fabia R5), Stewart Reid (SR Automotive Mitsubishi Mirage AP4), Andy Martin (Carbonworks Forestry Volkswagen Polo Rally 2) and New Caledonian Eugene Creugnet (Mitsubishi Mirage AP4) should keep the top four honest and will be pushing for championship points.

Dylan Thomson is the clear favourite in the NZRC 2WD class but will have Bryn Jones and the impressive Jack Stokes pushing him hard. Tim Mackersy and James Worker will also be contenders in this class made up entirely of Ford Fiesta entries.

The experienced Dave Strong will look to bounce back from a disappointing Otago in his Honda Jazz as he looks to make up ground on Willy Hawes in the Open 2WD battle.

Otago winner Paul Fraser is favoured in the Historic 2WD battle but experienced campaigner Mike Cameron (Mitsubishi) is there to take advantage of any mistake by the Ford Escort driver.

The Rally Challenge 4WD battle is fierce with Otago winner Andrew Graves (Mitsubishi) hoping to hold off the likes of Mark McMillan (Subaru), Dave Sievers (Subaru), Carter Strang (Mitsubishi), Caleb Macdonald (Mitsubishi), Gavin Feast (Subaru), Brian Green (Mitsubishi), James Macdonald (Subaru), Paul Cross (Subaru), Jay Pittams (Subaru) and Amy Keighley (Subaru).

Timaru local Darren Galbraith (Ford Fiesta) should have an advantage in the Rally Challenge 2WD class with reigning series champion Jared Parker (Toyota Corolla), Jim Bracefield (Mazda RX7) and Pat Norris (Toyota Yaris) keeping him honest.

The event begins Friday with a ceremonial opening in downtown Timaru.


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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