This Saturday’s Hyundai NZ Gold Rush Rally of Coromandel in New Zealand represents unfinished business for Kiwi rally star Hayden Paddon – it’s the one national rally he’s never won.
Paddon returns to Coromandel for just the second time, contesting round five of this year’s Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship with Malcolm Peden returning for his second event as Paddon’s co-driver.
Paddon is looking forward to tackling Coromandel’s winding roads in his Hyundai i20 AP4+ for what’s expected to be a hotly-contested rally among the frontrunners. Last year’s Coromandel Rally winner Australian Brendon Reeves is seeded second to Paddon’s number one seed status.
“It’s a unique rally in the championship,” says Paddon from Paddon Rallysport’s base in Auckland. “It’s certainly the most twisty with average speeds down to as low as 70km/h on some stages. This make it quite different to the fast-flowing stages that dominate our national championship.”
Having gone off the road in special stage four last year and therefore not finished the rally, Paddon is certainly not lacking motivation to score a good result. “It’s fair to say I have some unfinished business here, being the only national event we haven’t won.”
Hayden Paddon has dominated the NZRC so far this season. Photo: Peter Whitten
Paddon is also happy to have Cambridge’s Malcolm Peden as his co-driver again. “Unfortunately John has business commitments in Europe so it’s great to have Mal alongside us again – he’s looking forward to it too. As we have already done one event together this year [Whangarei in May], things should click well.”
Paddon Rallysport utilised a recent ride day with major partner Hyundai for their pre-event testing. “This helped us shake the car down for the rally and it’s always great strapping guests in the car and seeing how they react. They all certainly have a new appreciation for the sport when they get out of the car!”
With the service park in Whitianga, the Rally of Coromandel is a compact event, utilising three key stages near Kennedy Bay, north of Coromandel township; Waiau and Coroglen, south of Coromandel, plus a short street sprint in Whitianga to create an eight-stage rally comprising 113.93km. Weather forecasts show rain is expected before the rally, potentially making the third run through the stage near Waiau a muddy challenge for the 60-strong field of entrants. Finer weather is forecast for Saturday itself.
As top seeds, Paddon and Peden are scheduled to start the first special stage, Kennedy Bay, at 8.23am on Saturday. Their action for the day concludes around 4.40pm with a 1km super special stage in Whitianga.
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