Targa New Zealand winner Hadyn Mackenzie will compete at November’s Battle of Jacks Ridge in Auckland as he looks to transition to full-time rally driving.
The Aucklander has been renowned more for his circuit racing exploits until now but will make a fulltime switch to gravel and will tackle the purpose-built Jacks Ridge rally sprint and City of Auckland Rally.
Former national rally champion Andrew Hawkeswood constructed the stage on his Whitford farm initially to use as a key piece of the Rally New Zealand World Rally Championship event that had been set down for September before COVID-19 interrupted.
With the Battle of Jacks Ridge created as a pseudo-replacement this year, Mackenzie jumped at the opportunity to bring his car out to play and take on the biggest rally names in the country.
“I am pretty new to rallying,” Mackenzie said. “I was looking forward to doing the WRC event like everyone else but my goal is to complete the whole NZRC next year so this is a good stepping stone.
“I think it will be cool to go up against all the top guys and see where you come out.
“I am about seven or eight events in now on gravel and definitely finding it a bit more challenging learning just how much grip there is on gravel – there is a surprising amount of grip – but it is just learning how far you can push it or how late you can brake.
“It is going to take me a bit of time and I am quite happy with how I am sitting so far given how little time I’ve had behind the wheel of a gravel car.”
The Jacks Ridge stage has been created to test the best rally drivers in the world while also providing the best possible spectating and Mackenzie is excited by the small amount of what he’s seen.
“I haven’t seen it in person. I watched all the press days when Jack [Hawkeswood] and others have been on the track – from what I have seen it looks to be a bit of fun.”
Mackenzie dominated the Targa field in his Mitsubishi EVO X but will use a different car for the one-day City of Auckland Rally on Saturday November 14.
He is considering whether to use the same car for the Battle of Jacks Ridge or whether to set the EVO X up in hill climb spec.
“The EVO IX is a car that was built for Brian Green,” Mackenzie explained. “It went overseas to New Caledonia I think it was. Then it came back into New Zealand. Phil Campbell had the car and then it went to Raana Horan and I bought it from Raana.”
The Battle of Jacks Ridge will be broadcast live on Sky Sport.
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