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Hawkeswood junior wins New Zealand qualifier

andrew hawkeswood, otago rally2024

Second after the 12-14 April event was the Ford Fiesta AP4 of Robbie Stokes and new co-driver Sarah Brennan, while the Skoda Fabia Rally2 car of Ben Hunt and Tony Rawstorn finished third.

A fast and fiercely fought Otago Rally, the New Zealand qualifying round for the 2024 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), was won by 23-year-old Jack Hawkeswood and new co-driver Jason Farmer in a Toyota Yaris AP4. Second after the 12-14 April event was the Ford Fiesta AP4 of Robbie Stokes and new co-driver Sarah Brennan, while the Skoda Fabia Rally2 car of Ben Hunt and Tony Rawstorn finished third.

Seven of the eight cars entered made it to the finish with three-time champion Gaurav Gill the only retirement. Gill stopped mid-Sunday after damaging the suspension in the Paddon Race Group Hyundai i20N Rally2 car. There to see Hawkeswood junior arrive at the finish were his parents Andrew and Kelly Hawkeswood. Hawkeswood snr finished runner-up in 2019 and has been a long-term campaigner of the series.

“It has been a dream of mine for such a long time – such a relief to have it happen,” said an emotional Jack Hawkeswood at realising the accomplishment.

“I couldn’t ask for a better weekend to be honest.”

Hawkeswood’s win comes with the Vamcy Merla backed $5,000 cash prize. Finishing 17.8seconds behind, Robbie Stokes amassed six stage wins to Hawkeswood’s four. Stokes was a mere 1.4seconds faster on the final 15.05km ‘Kuri Bush’ stage to Hawkeswood.

Robbie Stokes, 2024 Rally Otago

“That stage is mental,” described Stokes at the finish. “The more I got into it the better it got – it was just crazy. By the end the tyres were going off and we were going wide in places but I held on to it – just incredible.

“I won’t lie I wanted to win – we were pushing all day for that but congrats to Jack – I’m really happy for him.”

Stokes claimed $3,000 for second while Hunt, who won the final stage, takes $2,000. Fourth was a returning Mike Young and Amy Hudson in a Toyota Yaris AP4 while Todd Bawden and Dave Neill finished fifth in the Ford Fiesta Rally2.

Emma Gilmour and Katrina Renshaw clawed back some time lost on the Saturday to finish sixth in the Citroen C3 Rally2. Kris Meeke and Noel O’Sullivan edged out final APRC finisher Zeal Jones and Waverley Jones in the Skoda Fabia Rally2. Jones lost rear-wheel-drive in the car for the Sunday to finish eighth overall for the rally.

Starting from Dunedin’s Octagon on the Friday evening the competitive sections were spread across the Saturday and Sunday – held south of the host city. The 16 special stages covered a total of 276 competitive kilometres.

After Saturday’s opening eight stages Hawkeswood had a 19.4second lead over Stokes with Gill a further 11.2seconds behind. Heavy rain the days prior to the rally had largely dried away and the competing cars enjoyed consistent weather across the Otago region. Sunday’s concluding eight stages used more technical sections compared to the more open country of Saturday.

Mike Young, 2024 Rally Otago

Returning to the sea-side ceremonial finish location of South Brighton, Hawkeswood said the result was part of a larger team effort: “I am absolutely over the moon about it. It has been a dream come true today. I never expected on Friday night that I’d be standing on the top step of that podium – it’s just surreal.
“We did a lot of work with the car, got the platform working and having Jason in the car has been a massive help. There has been a lot of things that’s got us to this point.

“It’s been a head-game this weekend, push on without pushing too be hard to be honest.”

Each of the finishing competitors score points toward the Pacific Cup sub-title to the overall championship. The series third round returns to the northern hemisphere for the Rally Montre in Japan, from 7 to 9 June. The event will count toward the Pacific and Asia Cup titles.

Rally Otago 2024 – Final Results APRC

1. Jack Hawkeswood / Jason Farmer, Toyota GR Yaris, 2:18:03.2
2. Robbie Stokes / Sarah Brennan, Ford Fiesta AP4, +0:17.8
3. Ben Hunt / Tony Rawstorn, Skoda Fabia Rally 2 evo, +0:35.3
4. Mike Young / Amy Hudson, Toyota Yaris AP4, +1:30.2
5. Todd Bawden / Dave Neill, Ford Fiesta R5 MkII, +2:24.8
6. Emma Gilmour / Katrina Renshaw, Citroen C3, +1:54.7
7. Zeal Jones / Waverley Jones, Skoda Fabia R5, +1:52.0