Chance to take part in rally ‘very special’

In sporting parlance, triple Olympic gold medallist Hamish Bond has a massive engine — and now he is getting behind one.

The New Zealand and Otago rowing great will make his motorsport debut at next year’s Otago Rally as a guest driver.

It is a change of direction for Bond, who has spent most of his career facing backwards.

He teamed up with Eric Murray in the pair and the duo won Olympic gold medals at London and Rio.

Bond has had a stint pointing forwards, though. He switched to cycling and incredibly won a bronze medal in the men’s time trial at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Third did not cut it for Bond, so he returned to rowing and helped drag the New Zealand eight to glory at the Tokyo Olympics this year.

Today, he will hit the gravel in Christchurch in his first driving test with his rally team, Jeff Judd’s Magnum Motorsport.

Hamish Bond. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Hamish Bond. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH

Bond said the opportunity to compete in the Otago Rally was invigorating.

"Rallying is something very different for me, but the excitement and the challenge of taking part in the event was irresistible," he said.

"Being able to make my debut in my home town of Dunedin is also very special."

Rally spokesman Roger Oakley was thrilled to have Bond on board for the 2022 event.

"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," Oakley said.

Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins, who this year joined Hayden Paddon in his electric rally car in the super stage of the event, also welcomed the news.

"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," Mr Hawkins said.

"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."

The Otago Rally begins with a ceremonial start in the Octagon on April 8.

 - adrian.seconi@odt.co.nz

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