New Zealand rallying’s star pairing Hayden Paddon and co-driver John Kennard have made the most of their return to the high speed gravel roads of South Canterbury, winning the 23 June one-day rally by a margin of 4 minutes and 51 seconds over Andrew Hawkeswood.
The South Canterbury event had special meaning for Paddon who, as a teen, developed his skills behind the wheel at club events using these roads around the provincial city of Timaru.
Paddon commented: “I enjoyed the day thoroughly. This morning was obviously a bit sketchy with a lot of ice on the stages which made it very difficult. We’ve never seen icy, frosty conditions like this on a rally in New Zealand before. Running first on the road, we were the ones exploring where the grip was or wasn’t, so that was tricky.
“Also, some of the morning stages had very long straights, and the AP4+ cars just don’t have that top speed, so we were mindful of looking after the engine of the Hyundai i20 AP4+. This afternoon, when it was a bit more flowing, it was really nice. The car was feeling good and we enjoyed ourselves. John and the whole Paddon Rallysport team did a great job.”
Paddon and Kennard won all but one of the 11 stages with former New Zealand rally champion Ben Hunt the only one to beat Paddon on his home turf.
“Ben and Matt Summerfield did a fantastic job today and it was a pity that neither of them got a result to back that up.
“This weekend was about getting a result for the team and the championship, so it’s been good. The rally was really well supported with lots of people out on the stages and in the service park in Fairlie, so it was great to get a result for all the locals who’ve supported me over the years.”
The battle for second place was close-fought with Australian Brendon Reeves – who is part of Paddon’s gravel crew for WRC events – tussling with defending NZRC titleholder Andrew Hawkeswood for much of the day before mechanical issues on the eleventh and final stage dropped Reeves down to eighth overall.
The Rally of South Canterbury was round four of the 2018 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, the first time this event has been part of the national series since 1984.
Despite not contesting the third round in Canterbury earlier this month due to his preparation for WRC Rally Italia Sardegna, Paddon continues to lead the NZRC drivers’ championship and now has 118 points to second-placed Josh Marston with 85 points.
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