Paddon wins International Rally of Whangarei
Continuing form by New Zealand rally driver Hayden Paddon and co-driver Samantha Gray in their Hyundai i20 AP4 saw the duo stretch their early lead to an over four minute winning margin at the weekend’s ENEOS International Rally of Whangarei.
Covering 264km of competitive road sections across New Zealand’s Northland region, the three-day event was again a highlight for those competing.
The second round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), it became Paddon’s fifth time atop the top step of the Whangarei podium.
“It has been a great rally and great result – exactly what we wanted. Sam has done a great job in the car; it’s a great result for the team and maximum points again for the (APRC) Pacific Cup so it’s perfect,” said Paddon at the finish.
“I just wanted to get out and enjoy it,” said Paddon of the event. “They are some of the nicest stages in the world and I really wanted to get my teeth into it. I won the stage records that were up for grabs this weekend so we’ve ticked all the boxes despite the difficulties – the team did a great job.”
Also the second round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC), second overall was Ben Hunt and Tony Rawstorn in a Subaru Impreza. Third overall and second APRC car was Dave Holder and Jason Farmer in the Holden Barina AP4.
Sunday’s leg of the competition used roads south of Whangarei. While the cars struggled for grip and swept aside the loose gravel in the morning loop of four stages, typically the afternoon second run was a time of consolidation.
“We are pretty happy with the whole weekend,” said Holder, who had a target of being less than a second/kilometre from Paddon’s pace.
“Getting into someone else’s car worth so much plays on your mind so we are very happy with the level of pace at the moment. We are sure there is more in the car with what Hayden can show in his pace – plus I know there is more in us so we will keep cracking on.”
Third APRC car was Andrew Hawkeswood and Jeff Cress in the Mazda 2 AP4, with all six international title challengers making it to the finish.
First two-wheel-drive car went to Marcus van Klink and Dave Neill in the Mazda RX8 – tenth overall.
While the ceremonial finish at the Quayside Town Basin finished in sunlight a number of teams never made it. American Ken Block and Alex Gelsomino retired again in their Ford Escort Cosworth, only completing one of today’s stages. Other front-running competitors missing at the finish included Dylan Turner / Paul Fallon in the Audi S3 AP4 and overnight podium challenger Stephen Barker / Chris MacIver in a Mitsubishi EVO 9.
The APRC series now travels to Japan for the first round of the Asia Cup, being held in the central region of Gunma, the Montre Rally runs from 6 – 9 June 2019.
Local competitors have a four week break until the third round of the NZRC, which returns to the South Island for the Lonestar Canterbury Rally, 2 June 2019.