Talking in the middle of his work week, the 23-year-old explained to RallySport Magazine’s Luke Whitten that his time at the Otago Rally often saw him ‘packing himself’ as he battled to control his nerves when leading the famous rally.

Behind the wheel of his Toyota GR Yaris AP4, though, he was incredibly fast and won the Otago Rally in fine fashion, leading from start to finish.

He took victory from Robbie Stokes and two-time national champion, Ben Hunt in a true fight.

It was an impressive performance.

“We pretty much just broke the weekend down into blocks. We had a pre-season test and we were at a rallysprint a few weeks before where we were really happy with the result,” Hawkeswood said.

“It was really similar road conditions (at Otago) to what the rallysprint was. We were just like ‘We’ll see if we can catch everybody napping and just go from there.’ The first two stages I even surprised myself at how well we got through them.”

Hawkeswood also details how his GR Yaris feels remarkably more stable than Force Motorsport’s other AP4 cars and where the improvements have come from in terms of his speed.

Elsewhere on the Special Stage Rally Podcast, Luke and Peter Whitten talk about all the news in the world of rallying.

There’s an overarching discussion on the Otago Rally, a recap on the tight battle in the West Australian Rally Championship and a look ahead to the Croatia Rally.

RallySport Magazine’s Special Stage podcast is available via the Motorsport Podcast Network on all your favourite podcast platforms.

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