NZ Rally Championship up for grabs
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Ben Hunt holds commanding lead going into final round of rally championship
Several title fights and a cast of former champions provide the headlines for the final round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship tomorrow.
The Trusthouse Racetech Daybreaker Rally Wairarapa will be contested over eight gravel stages in the Manawatu and Wairapapa regions.
Auckland driver Ben Hunt (Subaru) holds a commanding lead of 24 points in the battle for the outright title but Tauranga’s Phil Campbell (Mitsubishi) retains a mathematical chance of snatching victory.
With a maximum of 30 points up for grabs on the final round the opportunity for Campbell is simple — he must win the event and hope Hunt doesn’t finish.
Tauranga's Phil Campbell (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) goes into the final round of the New Zealand Championship with a mathematical chance of clinching the title this weekend. GREG HENDERSON PHOTOGRAPHY.
Campbell will equally have to watch his back as he is only 18 points ahead of Te Aroha driver Lance Williams (Subaru) and has Rangiora’s Matt Summerfield (Subaru) another four points back.
But while Hunt and Campbell are disputing the 2015 title the entry list for tomorrow’s event is notable for its line-up of past New Zealand rally champions.
Masterton’s Richard Mason (Subaru) and Feilding driver Geof Argyle (Mitsubishi) make their first appearances for 2015 and Chris West (Christchurch) will debut a new Mitsubishi Mirage Evolution “Maxi” car built by Ralliart New Zealand.
Mason is bidding to win his home event for the ninth time.
Further back in the field in two-wheel-drive cars are multi-time New Zealand champions Joe McAndrew (Wellington) in a Honda Integra Type-R and Bruce Herbert (Palm Nth) who campaigns his turbocharged Toyota Corolla.
A number of other titles will be decided this weekend including the Junior Championship. Lance Williams holds a 22-point lead in this category over Matt Summerfield.
In Category 5 for the Rally Challenge Trophy (for older cars) the fight is even closer. Only 13 points cover the top-four of Richard Bateman, Tyler Radovan, Darren Galbraith (all Mitsubishi) and Subaru Impreza driver Hugh Spence.
And it’s even closer in the fight to be the best Rookie Driver. Bateman and Radovan are equal on points, with Justin Glavish (Toyota Starlet) and Jonathon Walker (Mitsubishi) third equal just nine points adrift, setting up straight fight to the end with whoever is fastest on the day taking the championship.
The NZRC final round features 156km of gravel competition starting at Pohangina at 7.40am.
The format combines some of the classic stages from past Manawatu Daybreaker Rally events near Apiti for the morning followed by Rally Wairarapa stages near Mauriceville and Eketahuna during the afternoon before the rally finish in Masterton at 4.30pm.