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Leading Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship team Hayden Paddon and co-driver John Kennard have won the weekend’s penultimate round of the 2009 series by clean-sweeping the two-day Trust House Racetech Rally Wairarapa.

The Geraldine based Mitsubishi driver finished 3 minutes 28.6 seconds ahead of Palmerston North’s Geof Argyle and Tarryn Cox in the group two (open class) Mitsubishi.  Third was Hamilton’s Emma Gilmour and co-driving partner Glenn Macneall in the Vantage Subaru.

Following a slender overnight lead, Paddon had locals Richard and Sara Mason topping the time sheets for the first of today’s eight stages in northern Wairarapa.  Assisted by clear skies, the theme of mild weekend weather continued for the final day in the 240 kilometre competition.

However in the third test of the morning, Mason’s BNT Subaru rolled near the finish of the 15.33 kilometre Central Mangaone stage.  Initially a high-speed incident, the car went in to a slow and low-impact roll – ending on its side with the crew unable to right it.  Taking the pressure off Paddon’s position, it allowed the 22-year old defending title champion to extend his points lead.  Moving in to second for the five-round title contest, 61 points behind Paddon, Emma Gilmour leap-frog’s the Mason team who slip to third.

“It’s a good points buffer; everything’s gone to plan this weekend,” said Paddon at the ceremonial finish, who only needs a minor placing at the Nelson finale to secure back-to-back championship victories.  “We wanted to win this rally but we knew it’d be tough.  We had a really good battle with Richard yesterday and this morning, unfortunately it didn’t happen right to the end which would have been nice but we got the result we wanted.”

Against the newer and production specification Group N cars, Argyle’s result in the more modified Mitsubishi gives him successive podium finishes.  Consistent placings have awarded the team enough of a point lead to secure the inaugural Open Class four-wheel-drive title.

“It’s quite a relief (to get the title) as it’s been quite a struggle with budgets to get to these events.  But it’s good to get the job done with one round left,” said Argyle.  “My co-driver Tarryn does a perfect job; she’s very professional with what she does and it’s great she can earn her first championship title,” added the former two-time national champion.

Argyle climbed ahead of Gilmour when the Hamilton driver received time penalties for starting late this morning.

“The day didn’t begin as we would have liked as the car wouldn’t fire up.  Finally when we got it going it died at the start control, so was heart-in-the-mouth for 13 minutes until it decided it would go again.  So we were very very lucky to do today and to have such a good finish and be in the championship,” said the only female driver in the series.

Finishing fourth, Nelson team Kieran Hall and co-driver Peter Hart scored their best result of the season in their Subaru Impreza – to also head the rookie standings.  They were able to over-take Christchurch Casino team of Matt Jansen and Jason Farmer when their Subaru Impreza left the road on this morning’s fourth stage.  That closed the gap in the junior standings with Rotorua 17-year old Sloan Cox now trailing Jansen by 31 points.

Making a charge after gearbox failure on the Saturday, Timaru’s Glenn Inkster and Goldring were pace-setters for much of the Sunday 117 kilometre journey – the TransNet Mitsubishi team winning three of the eight stages.

Nelson’s Ben Hunt and co-driver Jeff Cress secured two-wheel drive honours, with the Rally New Zealand Rising Star scholarship winner heading fellow and class leading Ford Fiesta team of Ben Jagger and co-driver Ben Hawkins (Whangarei).

Maintaining the overnight rankings, Nelson’s Daniel Harris and co-driver Paul Fallon were third two-wheel-drive car home of five Ford Fiesta’s in the Group N category.

16-year-old Rangiora student Matt Summerfield and co-driver Dave Neill were first car home in the Open Class two-wheel-drive category.  The win giving the bio-diesel powered Skoda Fabia vRS team enough of a points lead to secure the inaugural series title.

Thrilling spectators during the weekend with his sideways style, a return to competition by Manawatu logging contractor Euan Fuge and co-driver Donna Elder in the Mazda RX 3 has created a mathematical wedge in the classic category.  Having to sit out two of the rounds this season with a back injury dropped the 2008 champion down the order.  Taranaki’s Mike and Helen Cameron in the Mitsubishi Lancer finished behind Fuge for the rally following a substantial loss of time by getting stuck in a creek on the Saturday morning.  Enjoying a 73 point lead for the title, the pair need a minor placing at the Nelson final to secure their maiden title.

In the interim several Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship campaigners have entries to the Repco Rally Australia in early September – including series leader Hayden Paddon.

“We will use the EVO 8 at the Possum Bourne Memorial Rally in August,” said Paddon.  “So we will use that as a test session for Rally Australia.  This car here (at Wairarapa) will go over to Australia in a container in three weeks time.”

Paddon is not expecting they will be able to return the car to New Zealand in time for the championship final mid-September, instead opting to run the older EVO 8 to complete their title campaign.

The fifth and final round of the Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship will be held over two days using forest roads south of Nelson (19-20 September).

Results: overall - Trust House Racetech Rally Wairarapa 2009 (top ten overall - provisional)

1 1 Hayden Paddon/John Kennard, Geraldine,  Mitsubishi 2:27:28.9
2 5 Geof Argyle/Tarryn Cox, Palmerston North, Mitsubishi +3:28.6
3 4 Emma Gilmour/Glenn Macneall, Hamilton, Subaru  +4:41.7
4 8 Kieran Hall/Peter Hart, Nelson, Subaru +5:58.0
5 12 Kingsley Thompson/Malcolm Peden, Keri Keri, Mitsubishi +6:07.2
6 9 Stephen Barker/Brett Lightfoot, Hamilton, Mitsubishi +6:31.2
7 31 Neil Marshall/Richard Carr, New Plymouth, Mitsubishi +6:44.1
8 10 Sloan Cox/David Calder, Rotorua, Mitsubishi +12:19.4
9 23 Alex Kelsey/Dale Perry, Hamilton, Subaru +14:18.5
10 21 Ben Hunt/Jeff Cress         Ford, Nelson, Ford +14:41.6

Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship – Goldstar driver points after four (of five) rounds

1          Hayden Paddon, Geraldine        274
2          Emma Gilmour, Hamilton           216
3          Richard Mason, Masterton         200
4          Kieran Hall, Nelson        128
5          Matt Jansen, Christchurch          119
6          Sloan Cox, Rotorua       107
7          Ben Jagger, Whangarei  101
8          Josh Marston, Christchurch        98
9          Kingsley Thompson, Kerri Kerri     97
10         Patrick Malley, Auckland            82

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