Hunt takes maiden Fiesta victory
- 22nd July 2009, 9:58am
Rally New Zealand Rising Star Scholarship winner Ben Hunt has repaid the faith placed in him by taking victory in round four of the New Zealand Fiesta Sporting Trophy series, the Rally Wairarapa. Hunt didnâ€™t have it all his own way, though, and was part of the most intense four way battle seen in New Zealand rallying for a very long time.
Last yearâ€™s Wairarapa winner, Patrick Malley, showed the way by taking victory on each of the first three stages, although he only managed to extend his lead to 11.1 seconds over Hunt, with Ben Jagger holding down third.
But just when he was running away with it, Malley hit a bridge, got stuck across it and bent his rear suspension which cost him over four minutes. He cruised through the remaining three stages before reaching the safety of service at day's end. This gave the leg win to Ben Hunt ahead of Ben Jagger and Daniel Harris took third, a top effort after a massive rebuild on the car and also a new co-driver. Dominick Unterberger, gaining more experience to put towards next year, had a clean run to finish fourth behind the ailing Malley.
Day two saw Malley, Hunt, Jagger and Harris all in a fierce battle that saw the gap between the four never extended to more than seventeen seconds, each winning stages and all except Jagger held the lead over the course of the day.
With the gap from first placed Malley to fourth placed Ben Jagger for the leg being a mere 12.9 seconds going into the final stage, Malley held his lead for the day but the big loser was Hunt, who dropped from second to fourth, Harris moved from third to second and Jagger moved up into the third place for the leg, all four separated by 11.9 seconds.
For the rally, Hunt held on for his debut victory, 14.5 seconds ahead of Ben Jagger and Daniel Harris made a successful comeback to take third. Dominick Unterbergerâ€™s consistency saw him take fourth ahead of Malley by a scant 4.2 seconds and as a bonus, Ford Fiestas took out the top five two-wheel drive cars in the event, all of them inside the top twenty overall.
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