Australian fan to the rescue
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It was an Australian who saved Rally Italy Sardinia organisers embarrassment when New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon scored his historic WRC second-placing at the weekend.
Rally fan Graeme Bray was at the finish line in Alghero in Italy on Sunday when Paddon and co-driver John Kennard ( both above) became the first New Zealanders to make the WRC podium outside this country.
Rally organisers were not expecting Paddon to make the top three placings in the rally, and did not have a New Zealand flag ready for the presentation.
It was reported during the weekend that a New Zealand rally fan had produced to correct flag, but it was one of Paddon’s Australian fans, Graeme Bray who came to the rescue.
Bray called out to officials and asked whether they needed a New Zealand flag.
“I then ran back to the Hyundai team area where a New Zealand tour group was celebrating Hayden’s performance.
“They had been phoned up and had a flag ready for me to run back to the wharf-side podium.”
Bray says Australians often liked to claim great Kiwis as their own.
“But I have known Paddon for many years and I could not deny him his chance in the spotlight.”
Bray said it was magical to be present for the Kiwi win, in a Hyundai i20.
“The next event in Poland better be ready (with a New Zealand flag) too, this time with the national anthem too, as Hayden is likely to win now.”