A clean sweep win for Hayden Paddon and John Kennard at the two-day Rally New Zealand delivered a lot of fun, six stage records and the prestigious Rally New Zealand trophy (for the second time) for the popular world rallying duo.
Paddon pays credit to the Paddon Rallysport crew who he says made sure the New Zealand Hyundai AP4+ i20 rally car ran faultlessly for the nearly 227 kilometres of special stages, transforming the car’s performance since its last event in August.
“It was great fun; a good, relaxed atmosphere where everyone gets on with everyone,” said Paddon. “John and I enjoyed being back in the car together for this last event in New Zealand. It was an awesome weekend.”
Of the two-day rally based in Tauranga which wrapped up the New Zealand Rally Championship, Paddon said: “Rally New Zealand ran an extremely good event. These are world-class stages, especially the stages on Saturday which took us to Whaanga Coast and Te Akau South, both used in earlier World Rally Championship events. They are some of the best roads in the world and great fun to drive whatever car you’re in.”
Paddon was expected to win and win handsomely he did, with a margin of nearly seven and a half minutes to second-placed Matt Summerfield. This is the second-biggest winning margin in NZRC history, the biggest being Paddon and Kennard’s debut in the AP4+-spec Hyundai at Rally Otago in 2016 when they won with a margin of over nine minutes and 22.1 seconds.
Over the weekend Paddon and Kennard set new stage records on six of the 12 stages which took competitors back and forward across the North Island, from Tauranga to Raglan and Lake Rotoma, and back to Tauranga.
Running first on the road as the top seed, Paddon swept the often heavily-gravelled stages for those behind him. “Being first on the road – that’s the way rallying is, someone’s got to sweep the roads and it’s actually quite enjoyable as you can make your own line. The second pass you’re more restricted as you’ve got follow the swept line, as that’s the fastest line to drive. There was a massive difference between the first and second passes this weekend, so I was rapt the Pirelli tyres held up well, considering the really hard conditions. Considering there were a lot of punctures and heavy tyre wear for other competitors, Pirellis seemed to handle it really well.”
Paddon, Kennard and the Paddon Rallysport crew were joined at the rally by Paddon’s Hyundai Motorsport colleagues, WRC co-driver Seb Marshall and WRC engineer Rui Soares. “They couldn’t help themselves,” Paddon says. “Seb was busy valeting the car and helping with video and photos, and Rui was also supposed to be holiday but wanted to help engineer the car.”
Rally New Zealand concludes Paddon’s challenging 2017 competition season. “Huge thanks to Hyundai NZ for their unconditional support of our Hyundai AP4+ programme and New Zealand rallying. They’re amazing partners to work with and it’s fantastic to bring home a great win for them this weekend.”
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by Kate Gordon-Smith/Relish Communications