Hayden Paddon wraps up New Zealand rally title
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Hayden Paddon has one unfinished task on his domestic rallying job list for 2018.
Paddon clinched his fourth New Zealand rally title on Saturday at the Gold Rush Coromandel Rally, taking the fourth victory of the season in his Hyundai i20 AP4 to put the 2018 title beyond the reach of his rivals.
His remaining objective is to wrap up a tight Manufacturers’ title battle for Hyundai at the final round in October. Subaru holds a one-point advantage over Hyundai with Mitsubishi five points further back in third.
Though it featured only a short 114km competitive route, the twisty and in many places muddy Coromandel roads served up plenty of frustrations for many of the leading crews.
Paddon and co-driver Mal Peden had a far-from-clean run to victory with a turbo boost hose becoming detached from the Hyundai on three of the eight stages, robbing them of significant horsepower and pace.
In the early morning loop north from the Whitianga headquarters, Paddon was in command. He was 44secs quicker than Australian Brendan Reeves (Mazda2 AP4) in the opening stage and led by 1m 10.4secs after two stages.
Audi driver Dylan Turner returned to the national championship with a third overall
He then fell to third place when the turbo issue struck for the first time, but made roadside repairs and was able to regain the lead in stage four.
His advantage was trimmed by the turbo problem recurring in stages six and seven but he prevailed to win the event by 18.7secs from 2015 national champ Ben Hunt.
Hunt enjoyed the most consistent run of the front runners in his Subaru WRX STI — a contrast to the rally lead-up when he injured his back and had been in doubt for making the start.
A duel for third place saw Dylan Turner (Audi S1 AP4) make a strong return to the championship in his first start since May.
Turner edged Matt Summerfield (Mitsubishi Mirage AP4) for the final podium spot by 9.4secs.
Reeves’ bid for a third consecutive Coromandel victory was denied by a repeated problem with the Mazda’s electrics which caused the engine to switch into limp mode on several stages.
At the point where Paddon lost his first chunk of time it was Reeves who briefly led the rally, but he continued to suffer intermittent delays.
Reeves finished in fifth place while Phil Campbell showed the potential of his new Ford Fiesta AP4 with a run to sixth, improving pace as he gained familiarity with the car.
Grant Blackberry (Mitsubishi Lancer) was seventh, Raana Horan debuted his new Skoda Fabia R5 to finish eighth and the top 10 was completed by Josh Marston (Holden Barina AP4) and Emma Gilmour (Suzuki Swift Maxi), who had been seventh but lost time with a shattered brake disc in the final stage.
Brake problems also afflicted Australian drivers Nathan Quinn (Peugeot 208 Proto) and Richie Dalton (Ford Fiesta Proto).
Dalton retired while Quinn finished 12th and is fourth in the championship race behind Paddon, Hunt and Marston.
Greg Murphy was a first stage retirement when his Holden Barina AP4 was halted by a differential breakage.
Along with Paddon clinching the outright title, there were several other championships settled at Whitianga on Saturday afternoon.
Dylan Thomson wrapped up the 2WD title in his Ford Fiesta ST while New Caledonia’s Eugene Creugnet (Mitsubishi) has secured the NZRC Rookie title.
The final round of the New Zealand Rally Championship is the Hyundai Rally of Raglan Coast on Saturday October 13.
2018 New Zealand Rally Championship standings (round 5 of 6):
1 Hayden Paddon (Wanaka) Hyundai i20 AP4143 points
2 Ben Hunt (Auckland) Subaru WRX STI107
3 Josh Marston (Christchurch) Holden Barina AP485
4 Nathan Quinn (Australia) Peugeot 208 Proto84
5 Matt Summerfield (Rangiora) Mitsubishi Mirage AP483
6 Emma Gilmour (Dunedin) Suzuki Swift Maxi76
7 Raana Horan (Auckland) Skoda Fabia R569
8 John Silcock (Rangiora) Mazda RX-755
9 Dylan Thomson (Christchurch) Ford Fiesta ST52
10 Brian Green (Palm Nth) Mitsubishi Mirage AP449
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