Olympic champ Hamish Bond changes gears to race Otago Rally

December 8, 2021

Three-time Olympic gold medallist Hamish Bond will trade oars for horsepower in 2022 when he makes his debut at the Otago Rally.

Bond was named as the guest driver for the event in April 2022 on Wednesday and has already begun training for the event with his first driving test in Christchurch with his rally team, Jeff Judd’s Magnum Motorsport.

“I have absolutely zero experience other than driving myself form A to B,” Bond told 1News.

“I was too much of a goodie-good and to be honest, I have spent 99.9 per cent of my life in an auto.”

With such a resume to his name, things were a bit shaky to start off with.

“I’ve almost touched the post several times and there’s a bit of a ditch but fortunately it's still immaculate to this point and that’s the intention,” he said.

“At the rally, to get through it and dance that fine line between confidence, aggression but also being safe and smart – I’ve got a pretty healthy handle on that but I’ve got to keep that adrenaline under control.”

Organiser Roger Oakley said he was thrilled to have Bond onboard for the 2022 event.

“New Zealand being New Zealand, people know people so I rung him up and said, ‘are you interested in coming rallying?’ and he was keen,” Oakley said.

Judd was just as stoked about the situation.

“It doesn’t get much better than having an Olympian in your car, does it?”

The call-up came just as the 35-year-old was weighing up his sporting future after successfully swapping back to the boat from a bronze medal in cycling at the 2018 Commonwealth Games to help the men’s eight claim a historic gold in Tokyo.

But Bond said it’s just a bit of fun.

“It’s an opportunity that won’t come around again,” he said.

“How could I turn it down?”

The Otago Rally will run from April 8-10 after securing additional funding from the Regional Events Fund to help support the growing event.

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