The coming of age of Zeal Jones

Youngster Zeal Jones announced himself as a driver with a massive future in the sport after winning the Rally Challenge class and picking up the Dunlop Drive of the Rally at Whangarei last weekend.

Jones had already turned heads with some impressive showings in the second half of last season and at Otago but made the whole competition stop and stare in Whangarei, with a dazzling display of speed and control despite still being a teenager.

The speed was there all weekend, and he banked a terrific fifth place overall to go with his maiden class win.

“I think at the start of the year we had a think about it and thought that if we did what we planned it would be achievable and that is what we did this rally.

“We did our own thing and concentrated on ourselves and didn’t worry about the results and everything else was a bonus.

“It paid off in the end.”

Jones said he paid no attention to stage times and was dumbstruck at times when asked questions by end of stage reporters that alluded to his lofty place on the timesheets.

“I think that approach really helped because a lot of people get stuck on that and it becomes a mind game, and you start pushing and get out of rhythm and make mistakes,” the youngster explained.

“As soon as we did our own thing it really worked for us.

“I think we will take the same approach and learn what we’ve learned from this rally and keep expanding on what we’ve done.

“Full credit to our whole team and sponsors, it has been awesome.”

Jones comes from great rallying stock – father Austen co-drove for him last season and was there cheering him on while uncle Kingsley was on hand to offer support and encouragement as well – both renowned competitors.

The younger Jones moves into a share of second place on the championship points table as a result of his Whangarei win and he admits that a run for the championship is something he and his team are thinking about.

“Definitely – this is a sport and a competition and after looking at the results after that last stage we are definitely going to re-think it,” he said.

“It is awesome because it is only our second round, and we were just trying to bank some points. It is unfortunate for some of the others but a good round to score some points.”

Despite being in title contention, he won’t change his approach just yet.

“I don’t want to get too caught up in all of that – I just want to enjoy it and have fun and then if that is what it comes down to at the end of the year, we might have to shift our focus a little bit.”


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