Subaru’s Hunt in action this weekend at Auckland Rally and Jacks Ridge
The eleven months between rally events has felt like forever for Subaru WRX STI driver Ben Hunt, so competing in two spectacular events this weekend is beyond exciting for the Subaru brand ambassador.
Tomorrow, the 2019 New Zealand Rally Champion Ben Hunt and his long-term co-driver Tony Rawstorn will team up again in the championship-winning Subaru WRX STI to take on the eight-stage City of Auckland Rally. Then on Sunday, Hunt will be putting on a display for his sponsors, fans and the crowd at the inaugural Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge held at fellow rally driver Andrew Hawkeswood’s Whitford farm.
Since Covid-19 caused the cancellation of the 2020 New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC), Hunt was left without the regular rallying fix that he has had every season for more than a decade.
“It’s been almost a year since Tony, the Hunt Motorsports team and I won the NZRC at the Waitomo Rally and I’ve definitely missed the feeling of driving the Subaru WRX STI to its limits on gravel,” Hunt says.
“Rallying is like an addiction and when we did our 100km of testing recently, I experienced the rush again. To have a rally one day and then the chance to showcase our sport in the spectator-friendly environment at Jacks Ridge feels like the perfect antidote to such a long time out of the Subaru!” he adds.
Saturday’s City of Auckland Rally will be based at the Kumeu Showgrounds and is comprised of the stages that were planned for the cancelled World Rally Championship (WRC) event both north and east of the city. They include stages in the Kaipara Hills, Puhoi and Riverhead Forest before the event’s conclusion at the purpose-built Jacks Ridge stage in Whitford.
The Hunt Motorsports team has performed their usual fastidious shakedown of the Subaru WRX STI to ensure its new wiring looms and lightweight refit are all functioning at 100 per cent. Debuting a fresh new livery, it will be gunning for overall honours on Saturday.
The following day, Hunt will be running in the Rally 4WD class at Jacks Ridge amongst a total of 58 competitors, who include some of the biggest names in New Zealand motorsport, such as Shane van Gisbergen, Greg Murphy, Sloan Cox and Hayden Paddon. They will be tackling the 2.2km piece of purpose-built WRC-calibre power stage.
Hunt’s Subaru will remain in rally trim and although its 300hp will be hard-pressed to match the might of the hill climb-specific, unlimited Open 4WD contenders, he will be going all out for a class victory.
“The Subaru will definitely be flying over some of the big jumps, as I’ll be going as hard as I can, and I can’t wait to put on a show for everyone. Thanks to all our sponsors and supporters who have helped make this event possible for us – we are stoked to have you on board.” Hunt says.
Subaru of New Zealand recently ran a competition for an entrant and their friend to win an ultimate prize pack, which includes behind the scenes access to Hunt’s pit area; the exclusive opportunity of joining Hunt in the passenger’s seat for one of his laps through the unique course; and VIP hospitality for the day at Jacks Ridge for two people.
Hamilton’s Andy Richardson and his mate Shaun Wright, who describe themselves as “huge fans of Ben’s” were the lucky winners. After making the trip up to watch him compete in the International Rally of Whangarei last year, they are “totally rapt” to have the chance to see much more of him and the Subaru WRX STI, Richardson says.
“The way that Jacks Ridge is laid out, from our VIP viewing point, we are not going to miss any action at all,” he adds.
Located just 20 minutes from downtown Auckland, and featuring stunning views of the Hauraki Gulf and surrounding farm land, the Jacks Ridge stage mixes a typically New Zealand gravel road with cambered corners and big jumps - all in an amphitheatre-like environment so spectators can see almost the entire stage from one vantage point.
Click here for spectator maps and information for the City of Auckland Rally and Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge.
Subaru of New Zealand
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