Recently-crowned New Zealand Rally Champion Ben Hunt has secured the support of new motor vehicle distributor Subaru of New Zealand in the form of a brand-new Subaru WRX STi NR4 rally car for the 2016 season.
The 27-year-old secured his first New Zealand Rally Championship title at Rally Wairarapa earlier this month following a consistent performance all season in his older model Subaru.
Hunt, originally from Nelson and now living in Auckland, will soon receive the all-new 2015 Subaru WRX STi rally car, built by STi Motorsport and homologated to FIA N4 regulations. It will be race-prepped with a roll cage fitted, and from there, Hunt will have it prepared to his own specifications.
“Working with Subaru of New Zealand is such a fantastic step forward for my rally career,” Hunt says. “We are really motivated about what next year brings, with the new car, and also around aligning ourselves with the new companies who have pledged support for our 2016 campaign. My 2015 championship-winning co-driver and great mate Tony Rawstorn will be back in the car with me next season and as always I am lucky to have someone of his talent calling my pace notes.”
The significance of having a new vehicle distributor supporting one of New Zealand’s leading rally competitors is not lost on MotorSport New Zealand president Shayne Harris.
“It’s just fantastic to see Subaru of New Zealand support Ben in this way,” says Harris. “Over the years, they have been a generous and involved sponsor of New Zealand rallying, Rally New Zealand and several of the sport’s top competitors like Richard Mason, Emma Gilmour and Chris West.
“The provision of a purpose-built, homologated rally car is a major asset to a young driver like Ben and one we’re sure he’ll make the most of.”
Hunt developed his rallying skills in a two-wheel-drive Fiesta and recognised as an emerging talent when he won the Rally New Zealand Rising Stars Scholarship in 2009. He also benefited from the Fiesta Scholarship, with its opportunity to train and compete overseas, run by long-time rally supporter and Rally New Zealand chairman Peter ‘PJ’ Johnston. Hunt is also a graduate of MotorSport New Zealand’s Elite Academy.
Hunt will also become a brand ambassador for Subaru of New Zealand. The 201 New Zealand Rally Championship will visit Whangarei, Otago, Canterbury, Gisborne, Coromandel and the new addition of Paihia.