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Repeating their impressive form, following the Rally of Otago, Ben Hunt and Tony Rawstorn have notched up their second, consecutive runner-up position at the ENEOS International Rally of Whangarei.
Subaru WRX STi driver Hunt again finished behind Kiwi WRC star Hayden Paddon but managed to lessen the gap by a minute, compared to the opening round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) three weeks ago.
Hunt also extended out his points break on the rest of the field, to sit 27 points ahead of Emma Gilmour and Matt Summerfield who are tied for third place. Paddon holds 18 points over Hunt but his international schedule only allows him to contest five of the six NZRC events.
Hunt was second following Friday’s two, short, night-time tests and Saturday’s eight stages, with a 1min buffer in front of third-placed Emma Gilmour going into today’s final eight stages.
With the Subaru WRX STi running “faultlessly all weekend,” Hunt and Rawstorn were able to maintain a lead of 1min:04:6secs over Australian rally champion Nathan Quinn in a Ford Fiesta R5, who eventually rounded out the podium.
“To be second behind a WRC driver and to have a WRC 2-grade Fiesta behind me is a testament to how well the Hunt Motorsports team has the Subaru running this season,” Hunt says.
“It is a fantastic result. We are really happy with where the car is at and I’m not sure there is much more we can do with it,” he added.
The 2015 NZRC champion, Hunt enjoyed the fast-flowing Northland roads and also the chance to repeat the morning's stages in the afternoons yesterday and today, which gave him and Rawstorn the impetus to improve on their first-pass times.
They kept the pace consistent, setting stage times second to Paddon’s on eight occasions and staying comfortably within the top five on today’s stages.
“We are continuing to build on the speed we had at Otago. In terms of the championship, we will just continue striving to improve on the basics and focusing on all the finer points that are going to help us win back the NZRC title,” Hunt says.
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