Rising Kiwi rally driver gets his first chance in Category One AP4 car
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A young New Zealand rally driver Hayden Paddon describes as an "extreme talent" is set to make his competitive debut in a 4WD car.
After claiming Category 3 (open 2WD) of the NZ Rally Championship, Ari Pettigrew is now entered to take on the returning Rally Hawkes Bay in Brian Green’s Mitsubishi Mirage AP4, with the support of AndrewSimms.co.nz and a team of private sponsors in the South Island.
“It’s been a dream of mine to compete in one of these high-level AP4 cars," says Pettigrew. "I am very fortunate to be given the opportunity to compete in one of the country’s best and newest AP4 cars built by the team at Team Ralliart: the Mitsubishi Mirage AP4 that debuted with Shane Van Gisbergen at Jacks Ridge last year".
Ten years on, Rally Hawkes Bay has returned to the NZ Championship. After the event’s big hiatus, few competitors will compete with prior knowledge and this puts Pettigrew in a strong position.
“It will be great to be on a relatively even playing field, with most competitors including myself competing there for the first time. We'll be heading into the event with a conservative mindset, as we are there to enjoy the opportunity and gain valuable experience.”
After proving his pace in a BMW, Ari looks to show his consistency in the Mirage AP4.
Through the support of current NZ Rally Championship leader Hayden Paddon and many others, Ari brings a combination of raw talent and Paddon’s experience.
“Ari is an extreme talent," says Paddon. "To me, he can be a NZ champion, but his partners and I believe there is a strong future outside NZ."
“The goal for the weekend is just about gaining experience in a 4WD car and there will be a lot to learn," says Pettigrew. "But I cannot wait for the new challenge alongside the country’s best drivers.
Rally Hawkes Bay is round four of the NZ Rally Championship and will take place in the Napier region on July 24.