Hayden Paddon wins Rally Whangarei with a broken axle
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While Cromwell-based Hayden Paddon claimed another convincing rally victory and a raft of stage records on Northland roads at the weekend, it was Subaru driver Ben Hunt (Auckland) who hauled a maximum points score in the New Zealand Rally Championship.
Paddon and co-driver Samantha Gray survived a broken axle in their Hyundai i20 AP4 mid-way through Saturday’s opening leg of competition at the ENEOS Rally of Whangarei, denying then a clean sweep on all 18 special stages.
Paddon’s overall winning margin ahead of Hunt was 4min 16.7secs in spite of the one minute time loss with the broken axle and another 40secs of penalties incurred for late departure from the Sunday lunchtime the service park.
It was Paddon’s fifth victory at the Whangarei event and the Hyundai driver is now looking at options for competing at one of the Australian rounds of the FIA Pacific Region Championship. He leads the standings after winning the first two events at Otago and Whangarei.
Paddon hasn’t registered for the New Zealand championship and it was Hunt [pictured above] who applied the pressure on his domestic title rivals by taking second overall and the full complement of Leg and Power Stage bonus points to power clear after two rounds of the six round series.
On Saturday’s stages to the north of Whangarei Hunt had a fight on his hands before he edged Hamilton’s Stephen Barker (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9) by just 6.4secs to claim the championship bonus points.
Hunt was the fastest of the NZRC competitors on Sunday and when Barker retired with damaged suspension, Hunt finished more than three minutes clear of Christchurch driver Josh Marston (Holden Barina AP4) in the overall NZRC classification.
The second round of the championship took a high toll on the national championship field with only 21 of the 48 starters completing the event. Among the leading contenders who failed to finish were Barker, Emma Gilmour (Dunedin), Raana Horan (Auckland), Dylan Turner (Auckland) and Phil Campbell (Tauranga).
Offroad excursions claimed Horan (Skoda Fabia R5) and Turner (Audi S1 AP4) while clutch failure leaving the service park on Sunday morning ended Campbell’s run in his Ford Fiesta AP4. Gilmour’s Suzuki Swift Maxi was a early retirement with overheating issues. And international guest Ken Block (USA) was dogged with power steering issues in his Ford Escort RS Cosworth.
There was a solid showing from 2016 New Zealand champion David Holder (Mt Maunganui, pictured below) driving Greg Murphy’s Holden Barina AP4. Holder, who is looking to contest the Asia Pacific Rally Championship finale in China later this year, finished third overall ahead of Marston.
Aucklander Andrew Hawkeswood (Mazda2 AP4) was fifth overall and third in both the NZRC and Asia Pacific classifications ahead of APRC contender Mike Young in sixth place driving for Japan’s Cusco Racing in a Toyota Yaris AP4. There was a promising performance from young Christchurch driver Dylan Thomson (Subaru) to finish seventh.
After two rounds Hunt leads the national championship with 86 points from Marston on 49. Hawkeswood is third with 46 points ahead of Dylan Turner on 39. Crowd pleaser Marcus van Klink (Kaiapoi) in his triple rotor Mazda RX-8 has climbed to fifth in the standings after a 10th place finish at Whangarei with 32 points ahead of Thomson on 30.
Round three of the New Zealand Rally Championship is the Lone Star Rally of Canterbury which runs to a single day format in the Ashley Forest, North Canterbury region on Sunday June 2.
2019 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand rally Championship (after round 2 of 6):
1 Ben Hunt (Auckland) Subaru WRX STI, 86pts
2 Josh Marston (Christchurch) Holden Barina AP4, 49pts
3 Andrew Hawkeswood (Auckland) Mazda2 AP4, 46pts
4 Dylan Turner (Auckland) Audi S1 AP4, 39pts
5 Marcus van Klink (Kaiapoi) Mazda RX8, 32pts
6 Dylan Thomson (Christchurch) Subaru Impreza STI, 30pts