Hayden Paddon dominates the Rally of Otago
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Hayden Paddon has made a winning start to his 2019 campaign by dominating the Rally of Otago which finished yesterday afternoon in Dunedin.
As the rally headed north to Oamaru on Sunday, Paddon (Cromwell) extended his overnight lead of just over three minutes by winning all seven of the Sunday stages in his Hyundai i20 AP4.
The only part of the 15-stage event where Paddon didn’t set the pace was Saturday afternoon’s short tarmac stage near the Dunedin port area where he suffered a puncture. His final winning margin stretched to 7min 16.9secs.
Behind Paddon there was a battle for opening round honours that suggests a competitive New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) is in prospect through the next five rounds.
The overnight lead had been held by Auckland’s Dylan Turner (Audi S1 AP4) but Subaru driver Ben Hunt (Auckland) had been closing late on Saturday as he recovered from delays due to brake problems early in the rally.
Hunt made the move into second place after the opening stage of Sunday morning and with five second fastest times behind Paddon he consolidated second place and made sure of the NZRC honours.
It was a strong start to the six-round series from Hunt who claimed 42 points from a possible score of 44 for the weekend.
Turner completed the podium 1m 08.1secs behind Hunt and is second in the championship on 35 points with Tauranga’s Phil Campbell (Ford Fiesta AP4) completing a consistent drive to finish fourth and score 24 points.
After some delays on Saturday, Rangiora’s Matt Summerfield (Mitsubishi Mirage AP4) and Christchurch driver Josh Marston (Holden Barina AP4) both climbed the order during the Sunday stages and have opened their NZRC campaigns with a useful haul of points.
Summerfield was Hunt’s nearest rival through the Sunday leg and he climbed to eighth overall while Marston finished sixth. Adding leg and power stage bonus points, Summerfield has 22 points and is fourth in the championship.
Marston and 2017 champion Andrew Hawkeswood (Auckland) both gained 21 points from the weekend.
Norway’s Mads Ostberg won the Otago Classic Rally at his second attempt.
Ford Escorts filled the top seven places in the Classic Rally with Gore’s Derek Ayson almost two minutes behind Ostberg and Kaikoura’s Regan Ross completed the podium.
Round two of the NZ Rally Championship is the Eneos Rally of Whangarei over the May 4-5 weekend.