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Olympic gold medallist to contest 2022 Otago Rally

Hamish Bond and co-driver Grant Marra with the Subaru they will drive in the 2022 Otago Rally

Three-time Olympic gold medallist, Hamish Bond, will make his rallying debut at next year’s Otago Rally when he becomes guest driver at the event in April 2022.

The international rowing legend, who has won gold medals in three consecutive Olympic Games across two separate rowing disciplines, and bronze in road cycling in the 2018 Commonwealth Games, today took to the gravel in Christchurch in his first driving test with his rally team, Jeff Judd’s Magnum Motorsport.

Bond says the opportunity to compete in the Otago Rally was “irresistible” and today’s experience was “a great introduction to rally”.

“This was my second time in a rally car, but it’s pretty different being at the steering wheel rather than getting a ride with Emma Gilmour,” says Bond, 35.

“There were a few butt clenching moments, but I’m pretty pleased with how it went. It’s fantastic to have such an awesome new experience at this stage of my sporting career.

“Rallying is something very different for me, but I’m always up for a new challenge and having such an experienced and supportive team behind me made it much easier considering my novice rank. I’ve spent 99% of my driving life in an automatic so driving a manual was hard enough without trying to go fast on the gravel.”

Organisers behind the event, say they are thrilled to have Bond onboard as for the 2022 event, which continues to attract new faces to the sport of rallying.

Last year’s Rally welcomed motorcycling stars Avalon Biddle and Aaron Slight, who both enjoyed their experiences driving through Otago’s scenic landscape.

“We are thrilled that Hamish is onboard for 2022. As a world-class sportsperson, an inspiring athlete and a fantastic guy who is up for a new challenge, we believe he’ll make an excellent ambassador for our event,” Rally spokesperson Roger Oakley says.

“Our goal is that Hamish has the most enjoyable week of sport he has had in a long time, and I know the rallying family will welcome him into the fold.”

Hamish Bond gets in some early practice for the 2022 Otago Rally.

The Otago Rally, which will run from April 8-10, 2022, has also secured additional funding from the Regional Events Fund to help support the growing event. The REF programme is part of the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Enterprise’s suite of COVID-19 recovery initiatives.

Dunedin City Mayor Aaron Hawkins, who rode in Rally legend Hayden Paddon’s electric car at the super stage of this year’s event, says he was pleased to see the Rally’s growing commitment to sustainability measures.  Off-setting carbon emissions and embracing biofuels and EVs all align with the fund’s core criteria and the city’s strategic goals.

“The Rally has established a strong national and international following over the years, and now has the opportunity to build on this through the Regional Events Fund,” Mayor Hawkins says.

“I look forward to watching the rally grow and diversify to attract new visitors, which in turn will benefit our local economy and further our reputation as an excellent destination for events.”

Fans will have a chance to see Hamish Bond during the Otago Rally at the ceremonial start in the Octagon on Friday, April 8, at the service parks or the Super Stage in Dunedin on Saturday, April 9.

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