Hyundai leads Audi: Hayden Paddon dominates day one of Rally Otago
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Hyundai driver Hayden Paddon has set the pace through all but the final stage at Rally Otago today to build a commanding lead of more than three minutes.
Cromwell-based Paddon and co-driver John Kennard were on stage record-breaking pace for much of the day. An unbeaten sequence of fastest times only denied when Paddon suffered a puncture in the short tarmac super special stage near Dunedin’s port area.
With eight stages completed today Paddon is 3m 05.5s ahead of Auckland’s Dylan Turner (Audi S1 AP4, pictured below).
With Paddon opting not to register for the NZ Rally Championship this year, Turner has claimed the first leg bonus points but is likely to face a strong challenge on Sunday’s stages from 2015 champ Ben Hunt (Auckland).
Hunt’s Subaru was slowed by some brake issues early on Saturday but he climbed the leaderboard from seventh place after solving the problem and will begin day two trailing Turner by 11.5secs.
Sunday’s itinerary features seven more stage looping around a service park at Oamaru. There is slightly more competitive driving on Sunday than has been completed today.
Australian driver Brendan Reeves - driving a Brian Stokes-owned Ford Fiesta AP4 – had been best-of-the-rest behind Paddon for much of today. He was more than 30secs ahead of Turner after five stages before his run was halted by a broken alternator mounting.
In fourth overnight – and third in the NZRC rankings – is Tauranga’s Phil Campbell (Ford Fiesta AP4) while the father and son duo of Andrew and Jack Hawkeswood in their Mazda2 AP4 cars are fifth and sixth respectively.
Seventh today and taking maximum points in the NZRC Rally Challenge category (a single day category) was Tauranga’s Ben Thomason (Subaru).
In the International Classic Rally Norwegian WRC star Mads Ostberg is the overnight leader driving a Ford Escort RS1800.
Ostberg is also eighth outright and is just over a minute ahead of Gore’s Derek Ayson (Ford Escort) in the Classic Rally while 50secs of lateness penalties have dropped 2018 Classic Rally winner Regan Ross (Kaikoura) back into third place.
There was been delays and retirements for several leading NZRC competitors.
Local hope Emma Gilmour (Dunedin) was an early retirement in her Suzuki Swift Maxi and Auckland’s Raana Horan (Skoda Fabia R5) retired after the opening stage.
Former champion David Holder (Mt Maunganui) lost more than 20 minutes with a broken driveshaft in his Holden Barina AP4 and Rangiora’s Matt Summerfield (Mitsubishi Mirage AP4) was delayed by a puncture.