Stokes in unfamiliar territory as series leader

Robbie Stokes heads south for round three of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship in an unfamiliar position – he has the target on his back.

Stokes leads the championship for the first time in his career after back-to-back second place finishes and takes a slender four-point buffer over two-time champion Ben Hunt to next week’s Southern Lights Rally based in Invercargill.

“Never heard that before so it is new territory,” Stokes said of topping the standings after the opening two rounds of the calendar.

“Just keep doing the same thing – don’t let it get into my head or anything.

“I will enjoy it being points leader for a month or so and then do it all again.”

The outright pace has always been there with the Cantabrian and his Stokes Motorsport Ford Fiesta AP4 but three days into the 2024 championship and it appears things are coming together for the second-generation driver.

He backed up speed with error-free driving and car reliability at both Otago and South Canterbury and now has put together two outstanding events in succession.

“Amazing day, the car ran awesome, Sarah [co-driver Sarah Brennan] did an awesome job.

“It is just awesome – both cars home again without barely a scratch on them. Just an amazing day.

“I must say, just after Jack [Hawkeswood] went off in stage three, it was about three corners after that we hit the bank and were lucky to get away with it.

“That is all we could do – with Hayden’s [Paddon] pace out front he is in another league.”

Stokes has 61 points on the season with Hunt on 57.

Hawkeswood has 42, Emma Gilmour 41 while Paddon is on 30.


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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