Rally stars recognized by their peers

| Photographer Credit: Terry Marshall/Euan Cameron Photography

The Grey Roots Group have today published their annual rankings of the fastest competitors on the New Zealand rallying scene.

 The lists, now in their 14th year, are determined by each driver’s outright pace during the 2019 season, and ignore the effects of punctures, crashes or mechanical woes.

Every stage of every rally is examined by an expert panel, composed primarily of current competitors and event organisers. In the words of Group spokesman Dylan Turner, “This is not a measure of how well you can coax an ailing car to the finish; rather it’s a gauge of that most desirable talent – raw speed.”

“These annual lists are eagerly awaited by kiwi competitors; there’s a real sense of pride in being recognized as the best of the best by your peers.”

The 2019 rankings are as follows (with their 2018 positions in brackets):

Top ten gravel 2wd drivers                                 Top ten tarmac drivers

  1. Mads Ostberg (1)                                       1. Glenn Inkster (1)
  2. Marcus van Klink (4) (main picture)    2. Leigh Hopper
  3. Anthony Jones (8)                                      3. Haydn Mackenzie (2)
  4. Bruce Herbert (7)                                       4. Martin Dippie (4)
  5. Robert McCallum (5)                                 5. Marcus van Klink (9=)
  6. Regan Ross (2)                                            6= David Rogers (9=)
  7. Derek Ayson (6)                                          6= Jason Gill (8)
  8. Deane Buist (5)                                           8. Steven Kirk-Burnnand (7)
  9. Robbie Stokes                                             9. Eddie Bell
  10. Jeff Judd (11)                                              10= Mike Tubbs, Nic de Waal (3)

The two Waynes – Rowberry and Pittams just failing to crack the 2wd top ten, and the evergreen Bruce Herbert on the cusp of selection amongst the tarmac elite.   

Announced earlier in the week was the recipient of the Ballast Trophy for co-drivers, which acknowledges the Most Valuable Passenger for 2019.

“Tony Rawstorn was one of the rocks upon which Ben Hunt built his successful national campaign – he’s a very switched-on navigator and ever-reliable under pressure.”

This was Rawstorn’s second Ballast award, after similar recognition in 2015.

Sean Haggerty South Canterbury Rally 2019 – Photo: Euan Cameron Photography

A less sought-after award is Crash of the Year, which like Daniel Alexander’s crash in 2018, again occurred at the South Canterbury NZRC round. Subaru pairing Sean Haggarty and Sean Sands were given the nod for their multi-g shunt at Timaru; after a points countback against Nic de Waal’s messy departure on Targa NZ.

“The crash certainly didn’t deter Sean – he was even faster for the rest of the year.”

Top twenty-five Outright gravel drivers

  1. Hayden Paddon (1)
  2. Ben Hunt (2)
  3. Josh Marston (10)
  4. David Holder
  5. Dylan Turner (8=)
  6. Andrew Graves (4), who again was also the 4th ranked codriver!
  7. Matt Summerfield (7)
  8. Phil Campbell (12), Stephen Barker
  9. Raana Horan (14)
  10. Andrew Hawkeswood (5=)
  11. Mike Young
  12. Emma Gilmour (8=)
  13. Job Quantock (22)
  14. Kingsley Jones
  15. Brad Harris
  16. Jack Hawkeswood, Dylan Thomson
  17. Mads Ostberg
  18. Ben Thomasen, Quentin Palmer, Carter Strang
  19. Marcus van Klink
  20. Garet Thomas, Matt Jensen, Matt Adams
Hayden Paddon Timaru 2019 – Photo: Lance Hastie/Euan Cameron Photgraphy

“One of the most satisfying features of the 2019 season has been the noticeable increase in speed,” says Turner. “For instance, Ben is now matching Hayden’s times from 2018, while the other front runners are beating Brendan Reeves’ stage times. Both international-level drivers were considered one step ahead last year, but we’ve lifted our driving standards to match.”

 A fascinating comparison will be possible at next year’s Rally New Zealand.

“Local crews have often found themselves on the back foot when competing against overseas drivers. However, we now have a generation of kiwi competitors who not only regularly write their own notes, but after checking them with video analysis have the confidence to drive hard and committed on them.”

“It should be the highlight of 2020.”

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