Hayden Paddon gives his Hyundai a winning send-off in South Canterbury Rally
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Hayden Paddon gave his Hyundai i20 AP4 car a winning rally retirement run at the South Canterbury Rally yesterday.
Paddon put on a fast-paced display on his home turf to dominate the dusty South Canterbury event while Aucklander Ben Hunt powered to within a few points of securing his second New Zealand rally title.
Not part of the title contest, Paddon was seeded first on the road and took the opportunity to drive the Hyundai in a high-power tune thanks to a larger diameter turbocharger. He won all 12 stages and powered clear of the field to win the rally by almost seven minutes with the only hiccup in his day being a start line stall.
"This rally has been a real highlight," said Paddon.
"I had a stall at the start of one stage and even though we had the lead, it’s still frustrating to give away time. But the car was amazing to drive today with zero problems.
"It’s the best way for this car to go out. It’s going into retirement now and it’s going to become a hill climb car."
Paddon said he enjoyed the additional 40-horsepower provided from the larger turbo restrictor.
"It helped us get out of the corners and you could drive a bit more committed. I didn’t really help us top speed-wise but it made it a lot more fun. I loved it."
Hunt (Subaru WRX STI, pictured) meanwhile tightened his grip on the New Zealand Rally Championship with his fourth win and third maximum points haul for the season.
Hunt suffered a front puncture on the eighth stage which allowed nearest title rival Josh Marston (Christchurch) to narrow the margin. But Marston was in a conservative mode in the final stages having damaged the sump of his Holden Barina AP4 on a rock in the same stage where Hunt had punctured.
The gap between Hunt and Marston at the finish was 1m 14.4secs and Hunt holds a commanding 46-point lead going to the penultimate round at Coromandel in mid-August.
Aucklander Raana Horan posted his best result of the season taking fourth place in his Skoda Fabia R5 while a battle of Canterbury-based Subaru drivers saw Dylan Thomson (Christchurch) hold off a closing Matt Summerfield (Rangiora) in the closing stages. The margin between the pair was 1.1secs after almost 200km of stages.
Thomson’s result moves him up to third in the championship while Christchurch’s Marcus van Klink (pictured) was the leading 2WD competitor finishing eighth yesterday in his triple rotor Mazda RX8 and he has climbed to fourth in the overall championship.
The rally took a notable toll on leading championship runners with Dunedin’s Emma Gilmour (Suzuki Swift Maxi) an early retirement while Aucklander Kingsley Jones got stuck off the road in his Skoda Fabia R5. The AP4 cars of Tauranga’s Phil Campbell (Ford Fiesta) and Auckland’s Jack Hawkeswood (Mazda2) also retired from the rally.