Hunt Wins Drama Filled GoPro Daybreaker

Press Release - 30 June 2013

Having led the GoPro Daybreaker Rally from the start and winning every stage he contested, Richard Mason was sitting pretty with a 1 minute 48 second lead. That was until the last 4 km of the 116km event. Transmission failure half way through the last test saw Mason sidelined, with Nelson based Ben Hunt rocketing past to win, just 13seconds in front of Chris West.

For an ecstatic Hunt, this was his first outright rally win, let alone at a national championship level. Something that was particularly sweet on his first attempt at the tight and twisty Manawatu roads that make up the Daybreaker.

Ben Hunt.
Photo Credit - Jody Seabright

After 65 cars left Feilding on a chilly morning there was an initial flurry of problems in the first two stages. The demise of eight cars immediately split the competition wide open, before things settled down and the real battle began. Certainly at the pointy end of the field the fight between Hunt and West was never more than 15 seconds difference.

Both had suffered issues during the day, including punctures to West, and Hunt having the car cut out intermittently at times. With three changes of position during the day, these two were tied on the same elapsed time by the end of stage 7. Now it all came down to the last two tests.

The tight nature of SS8 Ridge Road saw Hunt slide through to a 15 second advantage. West fired back in the last stage to take the stage win, but with just 7km to play with, West could only crib back 2 seconds.

The final winning margin, only 13.1 seconds to Hunt. This is a huge boost to his points haul in the Brian Green Property Group NZ Rally Championship, where the absence of Hayden Paddon and the non finish of Mason now sees Hunt second in the championship, 20 points behind Paddon and 6 in front of Mason.

Behind these two, the fight for the minor money was initially between the Mitisubishi Evo 8 pilots of Geof Argyle and Dylan Turner, as they both chased top honours in the Total Lubricants Rally Xtreme Challenge. A consistent run by Argyle, without the electrical gremlins that had dogged him in earlier rallies, saw him slowly but surely pull away from a determined Turner. This was further sealed on the last stage when Turner lost power and lipped through.

That left a fast finishing Nigel Adams, in an even older Evo 5, to make the most of the opportunity and jump ahead of Turner. Meaning that the top 5 places were completed by Argyle, Adams and Turner.

The fastest of the 2WD cars happened to be the classics of Marcus van Klink in a Group B RX7, and Deane Buist in a RS1800 Escort. Initially it was old versus new with Phil Campbell in his modern Ford Fiesta R2 leading this pack. But hitting a big rock and damaging his fuel pump meant that Campbell dropped back, while the classics showed why they are still so popular.

Trading stage times all day, for van Klink and Buist it was like a tennis match, with each returning serve as the stage times came through. In the end it all came back to the first stage of the day where Buist stopped for a short time and that had given van Klink the advantage. The final result being a win to van Klink by 26 seconds.

Despite his early tilt at the fastest 2WD honour, Campbell was in his own battle with fellow Fiesta flyer Josh Marston. Again it was a battle where small problems impacted on the result. Marston suffered two punctures and had to lip out of Stage 4. The afore mentioned fuel pump problem for Campbell was fixed when he borrowed a spare off Marston, and the fight resumed. The result again a close one, with only 18 seconds separating the result in Class B. Campbell taking out 3rd, and Marston 4th fastest 2WD.

The head to head clash with competitors from both the NZ Rally Championship and the Rally Xtreme Challenge certainly made for interesting viewing. Undoubtedly the fastest three on stage times were from the Championship field, however the next three were from the Rally Xtreme ranks, including the much older versions of Evo 8s and in the case of Nigel Adams, an Evo 5.

Certainly there are a number of drivers who have shown they can compete at the higher levels of the sport. This includes a career high 4th for Adams, 8th placed Carl Davies, Graham Featherstone who is in his first season in the national championship, and a young Paul De Rose. He started 39th and finished 11th in his first decent go at a rally after having stepped from his class winning Mitsubishi Mirage last year to an Evo 7 Lancer this year.

The GoPro Daybreaker has a history of drama, upsets, dogged battles, and talented drives. This year was again no exception.

Full results are available at

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