By the numbers – Google Grant’s key stats for Otago Rally

Chris Grant is a leading authority on New Zealand rallying. On event, he works as a part of the Chrissport results team and off event is known as ‘Google Grant’, the ultimate search engine for rallying information.

We’ve got Chris to dig in to his magical black book to give us some key stats ahead of the Central Machine Hire Otago Rally, the opening round of the 2024 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship.

  • Ben Hunt is the only GoldStar winning Driver at Otago this year – 2015 and 2019, while Tony Rawstorn and Jason Farmer is the only GoldStar winning Co-Drivers starting – 2015, 2018, 2019 (Tony), 2016 (Jason)
  • Hunt also is the most successful NZRC Round Winner competing (11) – 9thon the overall historical List.

The other NZRC Round Winners running are – Brian Green with 3 (2012 Gisborne – Evo9, 2000 Christchurch and 1999 Marlborough – both in the Escort WRC), Emma Gilmour with 1 (2016 Canterbury – Suzuki Swift).

  • Co-Driver-wise it’s Tony Rawstorn with 11 – 5thon that overall historical list.

Jason Farmer 3 (all with David Holder – 2017 Otago Hyundai, and 2016 Whangarei and Gisborne – both in the Evo8), Andrew Graves 1 (with Josh Marston – 2018 Canterbury – Barina), albeit this weekend Graves makes his championship debut as a driver.

Also on that list, although only running for Pacific Cup honours this year, is Todd Bawden with 6, including Otago in 2003

  • 2024 is the 30thconsecutive time that Otago has been a round of the NZRC –

1994 started this run when Brian Stokes/Jeff Judd won in the Escort Cosworth, and for the next 20 years the rally was won by either a Subaru or a Mitsubishi, until 2015 when Hayden Paddon won in a Ford Escort RS1800.

  • From 2016 to 2022 the same Car won the rally – the Hyundai i20 AP4 – Hayden x 5 and David Holder once in 2017. Last year Hyundai was the winning car again but this time it was the i20 Rally2.
  • Unlike other long standing rounds in that time the rally has always been run in either April or May each year and has arguably the widest selection of roads in any region to use in its itinerary.
  • For the last 17 editions of NZRC Rally Otago – since 2006 – there have been only 5 different winners

Hayden Paddon has won 9 of them (2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2021, 2022 and 2023

Richard Mason 5 (2006, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2014)

Dean Sumner 1 (2010)

David Holder 1 (2017)

Ben Hunt 1 (2019) – Paddon won the rally to make his 10 but wasn’t NZRC registered that year.

So can Hunt keep that number at 5 this year or will there be a new name added to the Roll of Honour?

  • With the likely close contest in prospect, the closest NZRC winning margin at Rally Otago is 2.5 seconds in 2015 when Hayden Paddon (Cat 4 BDA Escort) overhauled Phil Campbell (Cat 1 Evo9) through Kuri Bush going 10.3 seconds quicker over the 15k stage. This was the first time since Neil Allport (Mazda RX7) won the 1987 Auckland Rally that a 2WD car won an NZRC round, although Ben Hunt (Ford Fiesta) was only just over 1 minute away from doing that when he finished 2ndto Brian Green at the 2012 2 Leg Rally Gisborne.
  • 2 x second generation Drivers are shooting for the Gold Star to repeat their fathers’ achievements –

Robbie Stokes – Father Brian was Champion in 1985 and 1988 – Escort and Sierra 4×4

Jack Hawkeswood – Father Andrew was Champion in 2017 – Mazda 2

  • This will be the first time 2 x second generation Drivers from the same family will compete in the NZRC – Robbie and Jack Stokes

The other 2nd generation Drivers are both called Jones – Zeal and Bryn, although both are unrelated.

And Amy Keighley is a 3rd generation Driver – Father Andrew and Grandfather Morrie Chandler

  • The Manufacturers series began in 1994 and, apart from 2018, was Japanese dominated every year to 2019.

Subaru won the first in 1994 and is tied with Mitsubishi on 12. Mitsi enjoyed the longest winning streak (8 years) from 1997 to 2004.

Hyundai broke that stranglehold at their first serious attempt in 2018 and secured two more in 2021 and 2022 (despite the introduction of Cat 2 & 3 Bonus Points)

Therefore Ford became the first non-Asian Manufacturer winner last year (with the help of their Cat 2 entries) to beat Skoda and Hyundai.

  • Now John Kennard and Fleur Pedersen are not running in the NZRC, Jason Farmer becomes the longest serving co-driver, having co-driven for Dave Strong in the Daihatsu Charade throughout the 1996 season – aged 15.

His first rally was the 1994 Rotorua Rally co-driving for Dave Bycroft in an Austin Mini when he was 13.

  • With Hayden Paddon missing Otago he potentially gives the Round Winner (if they take the maximum points there) a 44 Point Head Start.

A Maximum Points Score for the 6 Rounds is 208, so if HP did that for Rounds 2 to 6 his max possible score will be 164.

If he did that the Otago Winner could still win the championship if they placed 3rd in all other points scoring opportunities for the following 5 rounds –

Rounds (5 x 20pts) , Power Stages (5 x 3) and Legs (2 x 3) at Whangarei, plus 44 at Otago = 165 points.


About The Author


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