A near-perfect Brian Green New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) season has seen Subaru brand ambassador Ben Hunt and co-driver Tony Rawstorn help Subaru claim the 2019 Manufacturer’s Championship, after the final round yesterday.
The long-term driver/co-driver pairing won five out of the six NZRC rallies giving Subaru a seven-point lead over its closest rival marque and its third championship in four years, having been the top manufacturer in 2015 and 2017.
Hunt was aiming to become the first Kiwi driver to ever win six from six rallies in a season and was on track to do so, clocking the fastest times in the first four stages of the six-stage Rally Waitomo in his Subaru WRX STI. He and Rawstorn had built a 1min:48secs lead and were about 5kms into the 25km Pungarehu Rd stage 5, when a mechanical breakage stopped the Subaru in its tracks.
“We decided to park the car to save the engine,” Hunt says. “We really enjoyed the first four stages and the roads here in Waitomo were fantastic. To win the first four stages and have a nearly two-minute lead, we were so close to that perfect season. It was not the ending we were after, but we’ve had a great season,” Hunt says.
His success was down to both speed and consistency in the production-based Subaru that his Hunt Motorsports team and Speedhub Motorsport transformed into a rally car four years ago. Hunt has won every leg of each of the first five 2019 NZRC rounds in Whangarei, South Canterbury, Canterbury and Coromandel - where he amassed enough points to claim the championship a round early - with the sole exception of day one at Otago, where he was the NZRC runner-up on the opening leg.
After this dominant season, Hunt now has 10 career NZRC rally victories to his name – good for eighth place on the all-time winners’ list. He is also now a two-time national champion after winning his first championship in 2015 in a Subaru WRX Impreza. Rawstorn also won the 2019 Co-Driver's Championship by the same impressive margin of 54 points, as Hunt’s driver’s title.
“Huge thanks to our awesome sponsors, the crew and everyone that’s helped us out this season we’re happy to have bought home the 2019 Rally Championship,” Hunt concludes.