The strongest field ever assembled for a New Zealand domestic rally will line-up for the inaugural Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge on Sunday week.
A total of 58 competitors, including some of the biggest names in New Zealand motorsport, will tackle the 2km piece of purpose-built World Rally Championship-calibre power stage on former national champion Andrew Hawkeswood’s Whitford farm.
Located just 20 minutes from downtown Auckland, and featuring stunning views of the Hauraki Gulf and surrounding farm land, the Jacks Ridge stage mixes a typically New Zealand gravel road with cambered corners and big jumps all in an amphitheatre-like environment so spectators can see almost the entire stage from one vantage point.
Ex-WRC star Hayden Paddon will revert his Hyundai i20 AP4 car to hill climb spec overnight after competing in Saturday’s City of Auckland Rally and will go head-to-head with hill climb specialist Sloan Cox in his Mitsubishi EVO 8 in Sunday’s Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge.
Reigning New Zealand Rally champion Ben Hunt (Subaru), up and coming star Jack Hawkeswood (Mazda), are joined by other NZRC stars Matt Summerfield (Mitsubishi), Dylan Turner (Audi), Raana Horan (Skoda), Emma Gilmour (Suzuki) and the pair of AP4 Fords driven by Robbie Stokes and Phil Campbell.
Supercars legend Greg Murphy (Holden) is out of retirement for the event and will take on current Bathurst champion Shane van Gisbergen, who will drive a Mitsubishi Mirage AP4 car in what promises to be one of the most popular entries.
Veteran Kiwi rally star Neil Allport will be one to watch in his Ford Fiesta R5 while Regan Ross will put his sister car through its paces.
Talented drivers like Graham Featherstone (Mitsubishi), Kingsley Jones (Skoda), Stephen Barker (Mitsubishi), Dylan Thomson (Subaru), Grant Blackberry (Mitsubishi) and Ben Thomasen (Subaru) should be pushing for a top eight spot too.
Targa winners Hadyn McKenzie and Glenn Inkster will be in the hunt as well.
One of the most popular entries will see Spencer Bourne make his rally debut in a Subaru similar to that driven by his father – the late Possum Bourne. Bourne Jr will carry the number 62 his Dad used while competing in the PWRC nearly 20 years ago.
Six stars will battle it out in the cross car category and should not be discounted from overall honours either. Three-time national champion Joe McAndrew, the speedy Mark Tapper, drift star Darren Kelly and speedway ace Michael Pickens and experienced rally campaigners Wayne Pittams and Jeff Ward will all have a good shot at winning the class.
Carl Ruiterman and Dyson Delahunty should feature at the front of the UTV class that is also six-strong.
Ian Ffitch and Ian Newman have entered in their super quads – Ffitch could well be a contender for a top eight spot after impressing at the Golden 1200 in the South Island earlier in the year.
A total of 10 2WD cars will fight out a competitive category. The Mazda RX8 of Marcus van Klink and Toyota MR220 of Chris Hey should be the leading contenders.
The Repco Battle of Jacks Ridge will be broadcast on Sky Sport and the event fast heading towards selling out. Tickets must be pre-purchased and can be secured by visiting Ticket Fairy.