What does NZ Rally Champ, Subaru’s Ben Hunt do with extra time on his hands?

Written by : Team Subaru with Ben Hunt


Ben Hunt has had more time on his hands with the NZ rally being postponed.


Before lockdown, Subaru brand ambassador Ben Hunt was a very busy man – running his Hunt Diesel business by day and preparing his Subaru WRX STI rally car for the next event, by night.

His at-home, new-normal meant he went from getting ready to start defending his 2019 New Zealand Rally Championship title at the Rally of Otago in early April and the International Rally of Whangarei planned for this weekend, to having more time on his hands than he’s used to, due to the New Zealand Government restrictions for COVID-19.

The Subaru brand ambassador will no longer be able to defend his title this year, as the 2020 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) has recently been cancelled for the season. 

MotorSport New Zealand and the championship promoters have opted to future-proof the sport in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Long lead-in times needed to organise events coupled with the need for the country to tighten its belts due to the economic impact of the virus means entry numbers could not be guaranteed.

While the first two rounds had already been postponed last month, after robust discussions, the regrettable decision was made to indefinitely postpone the entire New Zealand Rally Championship so that the sport can reset and be in a better position to return to normal in 2021 rather than risk incurring a financial hit that could carry on into the future.

Ben Hunt won the New Zealand National Rally Championship in 2019 after a stellar year. Photo Credit: Geoff Ridder

Hunt says the announcement means the rest of 2020 will be hugely different to his usual annual routine.

 “Obviously, we are a bit gutted because the last 11 years, rallying is what myself, my wife Emma, my team and my family do over the months between February and November. It was a big high last year and we were looking forward to getting back into the Subaru. I guess one bonus is I get to keep last year’s trophy around for two years now.”

While Ben would rather be driving his Subaru rally car this year, he'll now have a lot more free time. He plans to maintain his fitness for rallying but also do other activities that he enjoys, like going fishing and riding his dirt bike riding as the Alert Levels allow.

So what has New Zealand Rally Champion Ben Hunt been doing more of since he has had less on his plate?


1: Exercise
My wife Emma and I have made fitness one of our main priorities. We do a 4km run around the coastal track, which surrounds our subdivision. With many people either not working, or working from home this month, it’s is a great chance to stay fit, or increase fitness levels for general wellbeing and in my case for when the rally season starts up. I believe that a fit body equals a fit mind!

Ben's drone shots of the coastal track around their subdivision.


2: Training Apps or online workouts

There are many training apps, or fitness programmes to be found online. TVNZ is screening Les Mills workouts at 9am for adults and 3pm for kids/teenagers during the week. You can also find them all on TV On Demand, so you can do them anytime!

I use the Nike Training App and have found this to be an excellent tool and would recommend it to everyone. It has many different types of workouts, from strength and balance, core control, flexibility and you can tailor it to suit your goals. Emma and I like doing the flexibility and balance session after our run, using just our body weights.


3: Jobs

We have made long lists of jobs that we can do around our home - inside and out - that we have never had the time to do. These include finishing our unpacking after moving in a year ago. We aim to tackle a few jobs each day to make the time pass and feel like we are accomplishing something. There is no better feeling than crossing jobs off a list!


4. Sim driving

While I can’t physically drive my Subaru rally car during lockdown, to keep my hand/eye co-ordination in, I enjoy playing Dirt Rally on my simulator. While there are some epic locations and stages to compete on, nothing beats the real thing! Until I can get back behind the ‘real wheel’ though, it’s a fun distraction.

Ben Hunt has been driving on his simulator while not being able to actually rally.


5: Cooking

I don't mind cooking, but time is generally in short supply with my main focus and energy usually spent on rallying and my business.

However, now that I have time to get in the kitchen, I find it really relaxing and I tend to switch off to everything that is going on. I have even branched out from meals, to also making the odd treat from The Caker Sunday Baking book. 


6: Friendships and Family

We have made a conscious effort to stay in touch with all our wonderful friends and family over this time.

In normal day-to-day life we all tend to get too busy and making contact is sometimes hard. FaceTime is an essential tool during this time, and we enjoy seeing what everyone else is up to.

I think communication with our loved ones is something that we all need to make a greater effort with, even once we are out of lockdown.


The 2020 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship has been cancelled, with the championship promoters opting to future-proof the sport in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Ben will keep training and preparing for the 2021 season, and he and long-term co-driver Tony Rawstorn will be doing their best to defend their 2019 national driver and co-driver’s titles in the Subaru WRX STI.


More Subaru Stories