Whangarei driver Ben Jagger will contest this Saturday's Valvoline Rally of the North as defending title holder after his well deserved winning of the event last year.
A consistent and fast paced drive earned Jagger the win last year and was a fitting way for him to cap off his debut season in the NZRC four wheel drive category in 2010.
He along with co-driver Ben Hawkins won the two wheel drive category in the New Zealand Rally Championship in 2009.
As number one seed this year Jagger in the SeedForce Subaru WRX Impreza will lead a field of around 40 rally cars across the start ramp and into the opening special stage of the one day rally which gets underway at 7am this Saturday the 15th October from the Paihia public carpark.
The drivers will briefly head south for special stage one on Oromahoe Rd before heading north for another three stages followed by lunch at the Kaitaia A & P Showgrounds just before 12pm.
Aterwards the field will head east where the rally's total of eight special stages will come to a conclusion just outside of Kerikeri. The official finish will be at the Williams St carpark back at Paihia with the first car expected just before 5.30pm.
Although not part of the national championship calendar, NZRC contender Ben Jagger looks forward to the Rally of the North each year saying it has become one of his favourites.
"I really llike this event, we have the best (rally) roads in New Zealand up here and especially the ones further up north they use in this rally. They are just so well cambered and well maintained it makes it an enjoyable rally." said Jagger.
However the event won't be an easy task for Jagger who will have his closest rival tucked right up behind him on the road.
Kerikeri's Kingsley Thompson will start from second in the running order and will be expected to charge hard and push Jagger even harder as he looks to win this event again as in 2007.
Last year Thompson was leading the charge early on and looking good to win the rally for a second time before leaving the road in his Mitsubishi. In doing so he handed the lead to a tightly chasing Jagger who's consistently fast pace brought him eventual victory ahead of his biggest rival.
Thompson is the only Northland driver who contested the national championship this season other than Jagger.
"Kingsley will be pushing hard to win it this time and I think will be my strongest competitor.Also there are Dylan Turner (Auckland) and Brendon Oakden (Whangarei)." said Jagger.
Brendon Oakden won this year's Rally of Whangarei Clubman's event which he has done twice previously and will be a strong contender for an overall win at Rally of the North and easy pick for winning the pre-94 category in his older Subaru.
Info: The 2011 Rally of the North comprises approximately 180km of competitive stages and 230km of touring. Based in Paihia where the start and finish will take place, the event will also have a lunch stop at the Kaitaia A&P Showgrounds. More information including a downloadable map can be found at www.rallyofthenorth.co.nz