A seven week extended break for drivers, co-drivers and support crew comes to an end this weekend when the Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship enters the fourth and penultimate round of the series.
Teams start up their machinery for the first time since July's Rally Whangarei and head to Rally Nelson where it is hoped valuable points can be gleaned before the final in September at Rally Wairarapa.
Whangarei driver Ben Jagger hopes for a straight forward weekend and a strong finish within the top five to regain some of the ground lost over the previous two rallies.
He needs a good points haul to recover back within the top 10 in the championship standings and also regain his lead in the Junior Championship from Rotorua's Sloan Cox.
Reflecting on Rally Whangarei and Rally New Zealand where he and co-driver Ben Hawkins retired in the first stage of both rallies Ben Jagger has a simple gameplan in mind going into this weekend's rally.
"We're just going to concentrate on getting the first stage out of the way really." he says.
"We will be aiming at passing Sloan Cox in the standings and still believe we have the speed to place within the top five so that will also be our goal at Nelson."
Although claiming fifth position at his debut in the four wheel drive class at the opening Rally Otago, Jagger currently sits in 11th place after dropping down the order due to his retirements. His aim at the start of the season was to finish his rookie Group N-4WD season inside the top 10.
Rally Nelson can be tough on cars and drivers with it's rough and rocky forestry roads. Last year at this rally Jagger was fighting to hold the lead in the Group N-2WD class which made for a high pressure weekend.
"The roads can be rough and rocky, one stage we came around the corner and a rock the size of a chilly bin was in the road!" he laughs. "This time though we aren't fighting for the title so there is less pressure and a bit more like Rally Otago earlier this year."
Current championship leader Dean Sumner will be aiming to hold off Emma Gilmour who sits just two points behind him but Haydon Paddon in third will take no further part in the series as he partiipates in the Production class of the WRC overseas.
Rally Nelson gets underway with driver's signing session and car display at the WOW carpark, Quarantine Rd in Stoke from 6.30pm Friday 20th August.
The official start is from WOW carpark at 8.30am Saturday where the cars will leave and head out to the first of six special stages for the day.
Sunday's opening special stage begins at 8.45am with the first car due back after SS12 at the WOW carpark for the finish of the rally at approxiamately 2.30pm.
Recently Ben Jagger travelled to Christchurch to catch up with the class of 2009 of the Elite Motorsport Academy. The team caught up for a refresher and to look over how the skills they had learned helped them over the last year of competing in motorsport.
"They got our class all back together and we had a bit of a catch up going over what we had learned and how it had been useful for us - it was really good." said Jagger.
"I think the biggest help the academy gave me was helping me mentally with my approach to driving and all aspects of motorsport - the others seemed to have found that too. But also the help with handling media and obtaining sponsorship was another big one." says Jagger.
Further information regarding Ben Jagger and the SeedForce Subaru Impreza WRX is available at www.benjagger.co.nz.
Ben Jagger is the current Rising Stars Scholarship recipient in the Group N 4WD championship and a graduate of the Elite Motorsport Academy.