Tight Fiesta battle at Rally Otago
- 22nd May 2009, 10:19am
Northlandâ€™s Ben Jagger has come away from round two of the New Zealand Fiesta Sporting Trophy with a strong lead in the championship after two closely fought days on the Otago days.
The competition was fierce right from the start with eight-tenths of a second separating stage winner Jagger, second placed Ben Hunt and third fastest Patrick Malley.
The second stage saw Daniel Harris make his move, 5 seconds up on Jagger for the stage to jump up into second ahead of Ben Hunt. Round one victor Patrick Malley suffered a puncture costing him almost three minutes. Also struggling was Dominick Unterberger with no brakes, causing him to lose massive time for all of the first three stages.
Drama struck on the third stage when Malley left the road at high speed causing massive damage to his Fiesta that would sideline him for the weekend, causing him to go from points leader after round one to cellar dweller after round two.
Hunt, Harris and Jagger all swapped stage wins throughout the remainder of the day, Jagger making a lucky escape when he hit a tree on the last gravel stage of the day after the flying finish. As well as not losing any time, the damage was purely cosmetic allowing the 19 year old to take the leg win ahead of Harris. Rally New Zealand Rising Stars Scholarship winner Ben Hunt finished his 21st birthday on the final step of the podium and Unterberger was unable to regain the time lost earlier but still finished fourth.
Once again Hunt, Harris and Jagger swapped stage times over the course of the day, Unterberger not far behind but struggling with the second days ultra-fast roads. Heading into the final special stage, the 42 kilometre Glenburnie test, Jagger lead by 3.9 seconds ahead of Harris. Hunt was also in on the fight, 14 seconds off the lead.
Jagger set a benchmark time of 27:03.8, a time that Harris beat however his 27:02.7 left him a mere 2.8 seconds short of leg victory. Hunt was 10 seconds slower than Jagger but once again was able to take his place on the podium ahead of Dominink Unterberger.
Jagger now has a healthy buffer in the championship, his 132 points 24 clear of Daniel Harris on 108. Unterberger is currently third on 91, Hunt suffering from his DNF at Hawkes Bay in fourth on 91 and Malleyâ€™s total remains unchanged after round one on 74. All of the drivers will be looking to score the maximum points at round three, Rally Whangarei, on June 6-7.
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