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New Zealand’s top rally pairing Hayden Paddon and John Kennard demonstrated their world-class abilities with a convincing four-minute win at this weekend’s New Zealand Rally Championship round in Whangarei.
 
Driving on some of their favourite roads south-west of Whangarei, Paddon and Kennard set 12 new stage records as they finished the two-day, 16 special stage event with a four minute, six second margin over second-placed NZRC competitors Richard and Sara Mason.
 
After winning six of eight stages on Saturday, the ace Kiwis won every one of Sunday’s eight stages, setting new stage records in six of these while rain slowed the runs through the other two.
 
Claiming a moral victory, if not an official one in the overall standings, Paddon’s cumulative total time for the 288.16 kilometres of timed tests was two hours, 47 minutes and 48.4 seconds (2:47.48.4) compared to top finishing Asia Pacific Rally Championship competitor Finn Esapekka Lappi, winner of the International Rally of Whangarei, with a cumulative time of two hours, 51 minutes and 18.3 seconds (2:51.18.3). Paddon nor any other NZRC competitor could win the event outright because the NZRC Super Rally category is not FIA-approved, which meant the APRC and NZRC competitors ran in separate fields.
 
Nonetheless, with maximum NZRC points, Paddon described the weekend as “pretty perfect. We had no major problems, our speed’s been good and I’ve really enjoyed driving the car. I couldn’t ask for any more and it’s been a good warm-up for Europe.”
 
When asked if he expected to be pushed a bit more by the APRC leading MRF Skoda team, Paddon replied: “No, not really. While the gap to Lappi was a bit bigger than I expected, we’ve always enjoyed the roads up here and we’ve got a good car. Richard Mason kept us honest this weekend; the times were close and it was quite enjoyable to have him keeping us on our toes. We were never in a position where we had to start taking risks, but we did have to keep pushing on at a reasonably steady pace.”
 
Paddon acknowledged the contribution of his service crew to his fourth NZRC win in Whangarei.
 
“As always, they did a great job. Also, the Dunlop tyres worked in all conditions – the conditions were pretty tough out there, changing quite a lot, but they handled it.
 
“The biggest thing about this weekend is we haven’t had so much fun driving a car for quite a while. We were sliding around a lot which probably isn’t the best way to drive – I’ll have to tidy that up before Europe – but it was certainly a lot of fun.”
 
Paddon returns to Europe in July, having confirmed he and co-driver John Kennard will compete in a Baumschlager Rallye & Racing (BRR)-prepared Skoda Fabia in August’s World Rally Championship events in Finland and Germany.
 
Photo: Euan Cameron.
 
New Zealand Rally Championship
Provisional overall results after Rally Whangarei, 18-19 May 2013


1, Hayden Paddon/John Kennard, Geraldine, Lancer EVO 9, 88
2, Richard Mason/Sara Mason, Masterton, Subaru Impreza, 62
3, Ben Hunt/Tony Rawstorn, Nelson, Subaru Impreza, 39
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