Title fights go down to the wire

Ben Thomasen is going head-to-head with Matt Adams at Waitomo. Photo / Geoff Ridder

The oft-fought battle between Subaru and Mitsubishi will come to the fore once again at the final round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship as Ben Thomasen and Matt Adams go head-to-head for the Gull Rally Challenge title in Waitomo.

The pair go into Rally Waitomo locked on 82 points apiece after the two worst scores of the year were removed from each driver.

Thomasen (Subaru) took wins at Rally Otago and Rally Canterbury while Adams (Mitsubishi) finished on the top step of the podium at International Rally of Whangarei and Rally Coromandel.

Now they lock horns in a winner-takes-all battle on the challenging Waikato gravel roads.

Brynley Smith (Mitsubishi) is third in the championship on 68 points and lies poised to pounce should the front two have drama while Garet Thomas (62) and New Caledonia’s Eugene Creugnet (60) are also in with a chance of stealing the title.

The overall 2WD battle is just as tight with Marcus van Klink (Mazda RX8) and Anthony Jones (Ford Escort) also locked together on 138 points and in a straight dogfight for the title.

Queenstown’s Mike Sheehan needs only to secure a power stage point or finish the rally to win the FIA Group N 2WD championship from Robbie Stokes.

Jones holds a five-point advantage over Van Klink in the Open 2WD battle, meaning second overall and second in the power stage would be enough to be crowned champion.

Adams goes into Waitomo with a five-point buffer over Thomasen in the Gull Rally Challenge 4WD battle while Smith and Thomas are 16 points adrift.

Daniel Alexander (Toyota Starlet) will take a six-point lead over Andrew Gillies in the Gull Rally Challenge 2WD championship. Daph O’Rourke is a further three points further back while Wayne Rowberry (18 points behind) and Andy Martin (19 points behind) are still in with a fighting chance of winning the title.

Phil Collins holds a four-point advantage in the Stadium Finance Group A Challenge from Wayne Muckle in what is now a two-horse race to be crowned champion.

O’Rourke leads Thomasen by three points in the rookie championship while Charlie Evans (Mazda RX7) is only 10 points off the pace.

And even though Ben Hunt (Subaru) has already secured the overall Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship this season he can become the first ever driver to complete the perfect season in winning all six rallies from six starts should he triumph at Waitomo.

The 2019 New Zealand Rally Championship is proudly supported by Brian Green Property Group, Gull New Zealand, Dunlop New Zealand, HELLA New Zealand, Stadium Finance, Omega Rental Cars and Suzuki New Zealand.


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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