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At the Metalman Possum Bourne Memorial Rally held yesterday in the Waikato, Ben Jagger won the points he needed to secure entry into the Rising Stars Scholarship shoot out taking place in November.
Leading the class into the final stage of the one day rally Jagger's Seedforce Fiesta Group N 2WD rally car suffered a punctured tyre just six kilometres before the completion of the event.
"We tried to keep going through to the end but after a while we couldn't even get the car around the corners, and it was quite a windy stage." said Jagger.
Forced to pull over, Jagger along with co-driver Ben Hawkins quickly replaced the damaged tyre relinquishing their lead to 21 year old Ben Hunt who went on to win the class.
"We managed to get the tyre changed in around one minute 50 but lost time to Ben (Hunt) who went on to beat us." said Jagger.
In their two wheel drive Fiesta the "Two Bens" dropped from an impressive 13th place overall to a very creditable 17th in the final stage of a rally which was contested by a whopping number of 76 rally cars from around the country.
In his class the Northland driver won five of the eight stages in the rally giving him the most points towards the Rising Stars scholarship and securing his entry into the final shootout fulfilling his goal of the weekend.
"We now go to the shootout in November where they take the two drivers with the most points and one wild card and we compete over the weekend against them for the award." he said.
If Jagger is successful he and the team will receive $50,000 in funding towards next season's New Zealand Rally Championship where they plan to campaign in the Group N 4WD class the top echelon of rallying in New Zealand.
By securing the entry into November's shootout Jagger has also succeeded in greatly easing the pressure on himself for the final round of the season at Rally Nelson in September.
With that off-his-plate Jagger will now be able to focus on successfully completing at least one of the two legs of the two day rally in order to claim the title.
Currently he has a very strong lead of 259 points over closest rival Ben Hunt on 199 and defending champion Patrick Malley close behind him on 189.
With a maximum of 74 points available at Rally Nelson, Jagger need only find 15 points to win the championship should Hunt win both days of the rally.
With five cars in the race for the championship Jagger will need to finish either day in fifth position to score 18 points and take the title.