Hawkeswood beats Stokes for first ever NZRC win

Jack Hawkeswood has held off a charging Robbie Stokes to claim his first ever win in the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship at Rally Otago on Sunday.

Hawkeswood completed a start-to-finish win in his Force Motorsport Toyota GR Yaris and becomes the first second generation driver in history to win a round of the championship, following in the footsteps of father Andrew, who won the championship in 2017 and a pair of rallies in 2004.

It was also the first time Toyota has won a round of the championship since 1984 when Paul Adams and Jim Scott won the Tokoroa Rally.

Stokes was superb himself in his Stokes Motorsport Ford Fiesta AP4, also a second-generation driver, and scores his best ever finish in the process.

He finished the rally 17.8 seconds behind Hawkeswood, edging his young rival in the power stage – the iconic Kuri Bush.

Two-time national champion Ben Hunt was third in his Skoda New Zealand Fabia Rally 2 and set a phenomenal time of seven minutes 16.6s through Kuri Bush to claim the maximum five power stage points.

Hunt also secured the day points, edging both Stokes and Hawkeswood on Sunday times – with little separating the three over the Sunday stage.

Local Dunedin driver Emma Gilmour recovered from an early incident on Saturday to finish fourth overall in her Vantage Citroen C3 while Zeal Jones nursed his Smith and Sons Skoda Fabia R5 home for fifth, running front wheel drive only on Sunday.

Dylan Thomson was terrific as he took a convincing win in the NZRC 2WD class in his Ford Fiesta Rally 4, and was first overall 2WD as well, finishing nearly three minutes ahead of rookie Jack Stokes (Ford Fiesta).

The younger Stokes enjoyed a brilliant debut that will give him plenty of confidence for the season ahead.

Tim Mackersy managed to chase down James Worker in a battle between two Ford Fiesta drivers for third in class and third overall in 2WD.

Willy Hawes survived the day to claim victory in the Open 2WD class in his Toyota GT86 while Paul Fraser won the Historic 2WD class in his Ford Escort.

The championship heads north to South Canterbury for round two next month.


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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