New Zealand’s Rally Hawke’s Bay was cancelled on Sunday morning due to overnight weather closing State Highway two between Napier and Wairoa.
 
The call made by local Police when continual slips made the road between the two regions impassable.  Organisers were forced to call an end to the event and declare the opening day’s results final – the fourth round of the Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship.
 
“The road had that many slips on it the Police were struggling to maintain some order along there with traffic,” described Clerk of the Course Mr Steve Foster.  “I was always optimistic we were going to be running – given the predicted weather.”
 
Despite the heavy overnight rain the east coast region suffered lightly from the expected storm passing the country.  The gravel stages proposed for the day’s competition remained in good condition – with highway access being the hampering factor.
 
“It would have nice to be able to compete that today and maybe extend our (championship) lead,” said weekend winner Hayden Paddon, extending his championship point’s lead after finishing 47secons the winner.
“Now we have unfinished business with the upcoming Repco Rally New Zealand and I think we’re further developing the standard of myself and the car for the event.”
 
Second after winning the previous championship round, Christchurch’s Chris West said today’s plan was to try catch-up Paddon’s overnight lead:

“Its unfortunate the rally has been cut short but we can’t do anything about the weather, but full credit to Hayden – he dominated.  Today was to have been our chance to put some pressure on him and I don’t think we had the pace to beat him – but we could be there and take what was left.”
 
Third out of five Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9’s that dominated the top placings, Masterton’s Brett Martin and co-driver Grant Marra said the podium result will be their last appearance until the final round at Nelson in September:

“We’ve got to happy with result – it’s just a pity about today – we were looking forward to improving and getting rid of a few problems we had yesterday.”
 
Leading two-wheel drive; former Hastings resident Patrick Malley and co-driver Raymond Bennett led his parents Dermott and Linzi home, as one of only two Kiwi-2 and Group N 2WD cars to finish the day.
 
“Couldn’t be happier with the result,” said the junior Malley in a Ford Fiesta ST150.  “Basically it put us in contention for Kiwi-2 and Group N again; mum and dad were there to join in on the ride – so it was great.”
 
Palmerston North’s Bert Murray says the cutting short of the event places real pressure on his championship with only one round left to complete in the classic category after winning yesterday:
 
“We needed today to get the points and go to Repco Rally New Zealand with a serious chance of winning the title.

Mathematically it is going to be tough – it is Rob Wylie’s [current points leader] event; he just needs to trundle through and make sure that he finishes for a well deserved championship.  But we’ll go there and put up our best fight and see what happens at the end of the day.”
 
Rookie title leader Andre Meier from Cambridge (Subaru Impreza) has extended his lead to an almost insurmountable 92 points over Northland’s Ben Jagger in a Ford Fiesta.
 
The fifth and penultimate round of the championship moves to Hamilton, to be held over the first two days of Repco Rally New Zealand (29-30 August 2008).
 
Results
1. Hayden Paddon, MitsubishiLancer EVO 9, 1:40:54.9
2. Chris West, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9, +0:47.6
3. Brett Martin,  Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9, +1:32.9
4. Dean Sumner,  Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9, +1:51.1
5. Stewart Taylor, Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9, +1:59.7
6. Emma Gilmour, Subaru Impreza WRX, +3:09.7

Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship (after round four of six)
1. Hayden Paddon 196
2. Chris West 167
3. Stewart Taylor 139
4. Brett Martin 134
5. Richard Mason 129
6. Dean Sumner 98
7. Callum McInnes 93
8. Emma Gilmour 82
9. Andre Meier 80
10. Sloan Cox 79
 

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