Hawkeswood on the cusp of history after superb opening day

Jack Hawkeswood produced a career drive to lead the Otago Rally by 19.4 seconds over fellow second-generation driver Robbie Stokes in the season opening event of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship on Saturday.

Hawkeswood dominated the day in his Force Motorsport Toyota GR Yaris, winning the opening stage and showcasing a mature drive to protect his lead from a charging Stokes.

He is aiming to become the first ever second-generation driver to win a round of the national championship, following in the footsteps of his father Andrew, the 2017 national champion.

It was a break-through day for Stokes as well, who enjoyed a strong day in his Stokes Motorsport Ford Fiesta AP4.

Two-time national champion Ben Hunt (Skoda New Zealand Fabia Rally 2) held third place, one minute and 11 seconds adrift of Hawkeswood.

Youngster Zeal Jones was fourth overnight in the Smith and Sons Skoda Fabia R5.

Dunedin local Emma Gilmour had shown good speed early before she hit a rock and lost a lot of time in her Vantage Citroen C3.

Andrew Graves won the Rally Challenge 4WD class in a dominant drive in his Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 3.

Graves headed off Carter Strang (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 10) by just over a minute and a half while Caleb MacDonald (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 6) was third – a further 5.7 seconds back.

Defending national champion Jared Parker took out the Rally Challenge 2WD class in his Toyota Corolla, comfortably fending off Pat Norris in his Toyota Yaris.

Dylan Thomson holds the NZRC 2WD lead overnight in his Ford Fiesta Rally 4 by just under a minute and a half from Jack Stokes (Ford Fiesta). James Worker (Ford Fiesta) was a distant third.

Brent Taylor (Toyota RC86) has control of the Open 2WD class after Dave Strong ran into drama. Willy Hawes is second in his Toyota GT86.

Paul Fraser (Ford Escort) has control of the Historic 2WD class ahead of Mike Cameron (Mitsubishi Lancer).

Eight more stages await on Sunday.


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