Paydon looks to extend NZRC lead at Rally Hawke’s Bay
- 21st July 2008, 1:05pm
The battle for supremacy in the Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship resumes this weekend with a two-day charge through the Hawke’s Bay region for the Tomoana Warehousing Rally Hawke’s Bay 2008 (26-27 July).
The fourth of six rounds in the 2008 season, it has been seven weeks since the 24-strong field last squared off, with four teams now in the title hot-seat. As the series enters an intense phase on the run to the final in September, the Hawke’s Bay event will see new overall championship leader Hayden Paddon (Geraldine) start at the head of the field.
Faced with the same prospect of ‘road-sweeping’ for his rivals at the event in 2007, Paddon says he has learned plenty in the last year to make the most of the sometimes difficult position.
“We struggled on the gravel at the first round (this year) – so it’s more pulling my driving back a bit. When it’s swept I can attack, but when there is gravel you have to brake a bit earlier and try carrying more speed through the corners – which is hard from a race perspective. So it’s really difficult to measure and get the driving speed right,” said the 21-year old.
While the Paddon Direct Mitsubishi pilot has a 23-point lead in the standings, the advantage is less than championship points on offer for one of the two days being contested:
“I’ve had people say maybe we should protect our lead, but at the end of the day I’m early in my career so the way to get noticed is to go win rallies, not be second. So we are going 110% but there is a lot of tough competition again this year and we’ll just try get as much speed out of myself and the car for this event. I think we will be pretty good – especially over the repeated stages. Plus if it rains, being first on the road will be an advantage – but what will be will be.”
Now in second and on the back of his second outright rally win in as many events,
Dropping to third following a high-speed roll-over at the preceding Whangarei round, Masterton’s Richard and Sara Mason have an almost near-new car to attempt a re-claim on the championship title. The the highest placed Subaru team are now 32 points behind Paddon.
Starting from sixth position,
Another team with changes, Subaru’s
A further two-places back starting from ninth,
With the two-wheel drive class led by
The penultimate round for the classic cars, the six-strong field is headed by
Using a mixture of forestry style and county roads, the eleven all-gravel stages incorporate area to the north of Napier and in-land Wairoa. Highly regarded for carving a competitive path through rugged yet scenic countryside, the flowing nature of the Hawke’s Bay roads lends an advantage to drivers with a high-speed skill-set.
Beginning on Friday at 6pm with a car show and autograph session at Napier’s Soundshell on Marine Parade, the ceremonial start for the cars is at 7pm.
Relocating to Wairoa for Saturday’s 8am start of competition, the teams cover six gravel stages totalling 163.72km before returning to Napier for an over-night stop.
Re-starting the final day at 7:20am, a further fives stages and 100.36km will conclude with a prizegiving ceremony next to Napier’s aquarium along Marine Parade from 3:55pm.
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