A dramatic opening day of the NAC Insurance Hella International Rally of Whangarei has seen Mitsubishi’s Chris West top the time sheets while Hayden Paddon has taken the lead in the Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship.

Using eight stages south of Whangarei, clear sunny skies came as a welcome surprise as much as the international field struggled over the thickly gravelled roads that make up the third round in the 2008 championship season.
While Christchurch’s Chris West took first blood in the opening test, it was the deficit to the international front-runners that put them on the back-foot.
Then the field underwent a metamorphosis as off-road excursions re-shaped the championship ladder.
The significant 29 point lead enjoyed by pairing of Richard and Sara Mason evaporated one kilometre from the end of the second test when the BNT Subaru rolled heavily to put them out of contention for the event.
“We rode up a bank and it went over,” said Mason as he stood beside his stricken car. “Hey, these things happen,” he said philosophically.
Finishing second to West for the day, Geraldine’s Hayden Paddon was the benefactor to finish as the new championship leader.  A mere 20 seconds behind after 159km of competition was a gap Paddon intends on reversing for the final seven tests on Sunday.

"We’ve been getting second too much lately so I think its about time to change that and try go one higher.  Our main focus is still the New Zealand championship and with Richard (Mason) not finishing, it’s pretty vital to get as many points we can this weekend and get the lead,” said the 21-year old.
Paddon is also the leading driver for the Pirelli Star Driver programme, taking a massive 11 point lead while the second scholarship position is now wide open following the retirement of Mark Tapper.
Third for the championship standings from the day of competition was a third Mitsubishi of Masterton’s Brett Martin, finishing fourth overall behind top-billed Australian driver Cody Crocker (Subaru).
The Kiwi-2 category was similarly decimated, Aaron Cook (Honda Jazz) and Sean Gray (Mitsubishi Mirage) the only survivors to significantly boost their points advantage.

Australia's Brendan Reeves, on his first international rally, finished the day in 20th place. Driving a front-wheel drive Ford Fiesta, Reeves was the leading Fiesta by over a meeting, despite his unfamiliarity with the car.
Starting Sunday at 7:30am, the teams will contest a further 97km of gravel south of Whangarei before returning to the Quayside Town Basin for a ceremonial finish at 3pm.
Results – day one
NAC Insurance Hella International Rally of Whangarei – (top ten)
Pos.     Driver/Navigator                         Vehicle                                          Total
1 Chris West/Garry Cowan                     Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX           1hr37m57.4
2 Hayden Paddon/John Kennard          Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX           +0:20.2
3 Cody Crocker/Ben Atkinson                SubaruImpreza WRX STi            +1m31.5
4 Brett Martin/Grant Marra                       Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX           +1m49.5
5 Dean Sumner/Paul Fallon                   Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX           +1m54.8
6 Katsuhiko Taguchi/Mark Stacey         Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX           +3m07.9
7 Callum McInnes/David Calder            Subaru Impreza WRX STi           +3m30.1
8 Emma Gilmour/Jeff Judd                      Subaru Impreza WRX STi           +3m46.1
9 Scott Pedder/Glen Weston                   Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX           +4m22.5
10 Dean Herridge/Chris Murphy            Subaru Impreza WRX STi           +4m43.0

Get full, exclusive access for only $6.55/month.
  • Full access
  • Exclusive news
  • Store & Tour discounts

Show Your Support


Recent Posts