Papakura’s Kingsley Jones is the latest leading New Zealand Rally Championship contender to commit to November’s Battle of Jacks Ridge in Auckland.
Former national champion Andrew Hawkeswood built the stage on his Whitford property to initially be the centrepiece of the World Rally Championship Rally New Zealand event that had been set to run in September, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
While the full stage is over 6km long the Battle of Jacks Ridge takes place on just half that with high speed cambered gravel roads, spectacular jumps and technical corners set to test drivers.
Jones will see the event as a bit of a local rally given his close proximity to the Whitford farm where the Battle of Jacks Ridge will take place and is chomping at the bit to get his Skoda Fabian R5 out to take on his rivals.
“Being an Auckland rally, which are few and far between, it is good to get out and do something that is local,” he said. “The advantage is that you get to bring the family out and have the kids there.
“Traditionally Coromandel was the closest we came to Auckland, which wasn’t too bad for mates to shoot down but it is still an hour and a half’s drive and a night’s accommodation whereas being Auckland based makes it a lot more open for friends and family and sponsors and things like that.
“The South Island has a really strong rally community with events on their backdoor and so that really helps them out.
“I think the event is absolutely amazing – it is going to be good for spectators to watch and we will try and put on a show really.”
Jones was a big improver last season as he got more familiar with his Skoda through the course of the year. By the final round at Waitomo, he managed a podium by finishing runner-up to Raana Horan.
While he doesn’t expect to win the Battle of Jacks Ridge, he does hope to make it to the final runs.
“I’m not there to flap around – I am going to try my best,” Jones insisted.
“I think if I can make the top eight I would be extremely happy. We are running it in full rally trim.
“If I can be in or around Ben [Hunt], Jack [Hawkeswood] and Dylan [Turner] I will be pretty happy.”
The Battle of Jacks Ridge will be broadcast live on Sky Sport on November 15.