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An action packed weekend has ended up with local driver Ben Jagger proving that keeping out of trouble at a good pace is the recipe for success at round three of the New Zealand Fiesta Sporting Trophy series, the Rally Whangarei.

The championship leader was an early favourite going into the event and showed why by taking out the opening stage. Jagger made it further than Dominick Unterberger who misheard a pace note and ripped two wheels off his Ford Fiesta ST on the first stage.

Daniel Harris finally showed his full potential to take the stage win and, for the first time, led the Fiesta Sporting Trophy, albeit by only 1.3 seconds over Patrick Malley. He then pulled a blinder in stage three and, after the publicity stage, returned to Whangarei with a 19 second lead over Malley, followed by Jagger and Rising Star Scholarship winner Ben Hunt.

The afternoon belonged to Patrick Malley, starting out with a stage win and then inheriting the lead when Harris went off the road in stage 6, damaging his car heavily and forcing an early end to his weekend.

Ben Hunt showed his hand in stage 7 with a win but it remained status quo up front, Malley winning the leg from Jagger and Hunt.

Although Daniel Harris was unable to rejoin, Unterberger was able to and was keen to salvage some points from his first visit to the heavily cambered Whangarei roads.

Jagger started the second leg with a statement, four stage wins on the four stages before service giving him a good 24 second lead over Ben Hunt. Patrick Malley held down third place after his car became jammed in third gear, a problem he could not shake for the day and a puncture had cost Dominick Unterberger dearly, although he was still running and rounding out the field.

Although Jagger didn’t have the afternoon all his own way when Ben Hunt won one of the stages, he was in dominant form and took a comfortable 41 second victory to extend his lead in the championship to 64 points.

Second place for the leg and the weekend pushed Ben Hunt up into second for the championship, two points ahead of Patrick Malley.

Showing how costly even one DNF can be, Unterberger slipped from third to fourth in the championship and Daniel Harris dropped from second to round out the points table in fifth place. The teams now get a six week break before the fourth round, Rally Wairarapa.

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