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The Hawkeswood family assault on the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship will double in 2017 with series stalwart Andrew Hawkeswood being joined by his 16- year old son, Jack, who will contest the up to two-litre two-wheel drive class.

Both Andrew and Jack will line up in near-identical Mazda 2s with bodyshells prepared to AP4 regulations. While Andrew’s car will be a full specification four-wheel drive turbocharged monster, Jack’s car will have a naturally aspirated two-litre engine coupled up to a front wheel drive gearbox.
 
For Andrew, the 2017 season represents one of his best chances to win an overall title. 2016 saw the Force Motorsport team developing their new-generation AP4 car, eventually claiming third in the championship. Once again teaming up with Jeff Cress, Hawkeswood will start the season in last year’s AP4+ 1800cc Mazda 2 before moving into a new car with a 1600cc direct injection motor later in the season.
 
A change in regulations has seen all cars now required to run a 34mm inlet restrictor, something Hawkeswood and his team are well prepared for having run the car in that specification since half way through last season with great success.

 


 
“I’m starting to get a bit long in the tooth but before I give the game away I’d really love to win the national title and that’s what this year really is all about. We know we’ve got a good package from last year and we’ve changed a few things on that over the off season while we’ve been building the new car as well,” says Andrew.

“We’re in a pretty fortunate position with the support from Mazda where we don’t have to bring the new car out until we are completely confident that it is faster and reliable as well. It will definitely be both of those things, but it means we can take the time to do everything properly and give ourselves the best shot at the title.”
 
Meanwhile, the season opening Drivesouth Rally Otago will see Jack making his long anticipated rallying debut after a successful run at recent rallysprints. The 2017 season will see Jack jump out of the family Mazda RX-7 and into a freshly prepared Mazda 2 supported by Diggabits.
 
“The car we’ve built for Jack is identical to the new car we’re building as far as bodyshell preparation and suspension goes, it is 100% an AP4 bodyshell, just with a fairly mild two-litre engine and front-wheel drive gearbox,” explains Andrew. “If he progresses well, it means we can transfer four-wheel drive turbo running gear into the car in a year or two and it will be good to go.”
 
The opening round for the Hawkeswood pairing will be this weekend’s Otago Rally, which sees teams cover 280km of high-speed special stages to the south and south-west of the host city, Dunedin.

- Blair Bartels

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