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It would be unwise for anybody to consider the Ford Fiesta Sporting Trophy a done deal when there are two rounds remaining in this year's championship.
A gap of 13 points between the two leading drivers leaves the chase open and Ben Jagger along with co-driver Ben Hawkins plan to regain the championship lead they held before the ill-fated Rally of Hawkes Bay last month.
The team has put behind them the cancellation of the rally's second leg and coming away with no points. While preparing to depart for this weekend's Rally of New Zealand based in Hamilton, Ben Jagger was calm and confident about the lead in the championship.
Although Patrick Malley is hinting to the media that the championship is virtually his, Jagger completely discounts his attitude towards the title chase.
"A lot of people are wondering where he gets that from but it doesn't bother me, the championship isn't over yet and anything can happen. We definitely don't think it's over and we won't be worrying about him but just do our own thing and do the best we can this weekend." said Jagger.
Malcolm Wilson, managing director of M-Sport will be at the Rally of New Zealand this weekend and along with his many WRC duties will be keeping an eye on the Ford Fiesta competitors.
Whangarei's Ben Jagger opted to compete a Ford Fiesta this season as his choice of formula with which to enter the international scene of rallying.
Up for grabs from the NZ Ford Fiesta Sporting Trophy is a trip to the UK and the opportunity to compete for a place in the M-Sport team to work with Mr Wilson and the team.
M-Sport created the Fiesta rally cars and at a highest level of rallying, build and run the Ford Focus rally cars for the BP Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team.
The Fiesta was chosen by Jagger over the other categories for a variety of reasons. Firstly the four wheel drives were a lot more expensive to get into, with less opportunity available for a rookie driver. There was the possibility of the trip to the UK and Jagger's father Murray believed that Ben would set down a better foundation for his driving ability in a two wheel drive.
"The lower powered Fiesta meant that Ben would have to drive extremely smoothly and consistently well to keep the car on pace and the time spent in the car will help invaluably when it comes to stepping up to the more powerful four wheel drives after our two planned seasons in the Fiesta." said Mr Jagger.
There is also the fact that the cars look good and as a one make series has an identity all of their own. The cars were originally introduced to spot talent from an 18 to 22 year old field of drivers and although the category is expected to grow in New Zealand, here Ben has been the first driver in that age group to showcase his talents in the car.
"We know how good the car is now and think we made the right choice to move into one. As a tool for identifying young talent in rallying they are fantastic." said Mr Jagger who heads the team.
Ben Jagger, who is now 18, has been brought up with motorsport. As a child he watched his Uncle Brian Stokes on TV looking on as he won two New Zealand rally championships.
Although he did start competing at the young age of 12 Ben says even before that he was eagerly awaiting the time to be legally able to enter an event.
With a large pillow under him he would drive his sister around the family farm at just 10 years old in an old Austin A30. He would thrash it out around the paddocks like many great talented New Zealand drivers before him did.
Ben Jagger's passion for motorsport has grown ever since along with his aspirations for competing overseas.
This season is his first attempt at a national level rally championship. He and co-driver Ben Hawkins have turned many heads thus far and the pair led the Fiesta Sporting Trophy over two rounds before Hawkes Bay.
With a committed service crew, which this weekend includes Brian Stokes who is travelling from the South Island, the pair are looking forward to an eventful rally and good result.
The pair from Northland relinquished the lead in the championship after the Rally of Hawkes Bay when an unfortunate incident on Saturday left Jagger off the road.
Along with an unrivaled 21 retirements from the event there were only two drivers from the entire two wheel drive field who made it through day one, unfortunately one of those being his rival for the title Patrick Malley.
A tireless and committed crew pieced the Fiesta back together ready for the start of day two only to receive confirmation on Sunday morning that the second leg of the rally had been cancelled.
Stormy conditions across the North Island resulted in the closing of the main road to Wairoa where the first stages were to be held and there was no chance of the rally being able to continue.
Co-driver Ben Hawkins has decided to make his own way to the UK if his team mate is successful in getting to the UK. He is making the self funded trip in order to help Ben Jagger with the UK Fiesta Shoot-out by providing him with a co-driver he is well familiar with.