Kiwi rally fans have for many years enjoyed watching the exploits of Hayden Paddon in the World Rally Championship. While Paddon has worked extremely hard to succeed at the highest level he has also fulfilled a desire to give back to the sport that has given him so many great opportunities by establishing the Paddon Rally Foundation designed to assist New Zealand rallying at all levels. When the Foundation was launched Paddon said, “the vision of the foundation is to encourage new competitors and generally grow the sport of rallying in New Zealand from grassroots level to national and international level. The Foundation is more than just the financial support; each successful applicant also has access to us and the board for advice and help.”
Over 80 applications were received for the first round of funding at the beginning of this year. Over $30,000 worth of cash, fuel vouchers from Z Energy, race gear from Chicane Racewear and rally entries from the Marathon Car Club and the Eastern Southland Car Club were allocated to 26 successful applicants.
Roger Laird of the Eastern Southland Car Club says, “the club has always been supportive of ways to encourage people to participate and have previously given free entry to the Catlins Rally to the National Junior Clubsport Champion and we have also given entry support to the top 2-wheel-drive and 4-wheel –drive competitors as voted for by the Grey Roots Rally Group each year. Hayden has always been very supportive of our club and has attended our annual prizegiving a couple of times in his early days in the National Championship and the Production World Rally Championship. Providing entries for the foundation now is our way of saying thank you. This is a way for the club to be part of something very special that we believe in. We owe a huge thank you to Hayden Paddon – it is good for the club to be involved.”
Dave Loudon of Invercargill and Michelle Harris of Gore and her co-driver Jared Hudson of Christchurch are all competing this weekend as recipients of Foundation Grants. As part of the Eastern Southland Car Club’s contribution to the foundation Loudon and Hudson receive free entry to the event.
Loudon of Invercargill has been a familiar sight at the Catlins Coast Rally over the last few years capturing photos of the rally action. However on Saturday he will debut his new rally car, a Triumph 2500, built as close as possible to a works replica.
Loudon has received funding from the Paddon Foundation, designed to assist aspiring competitors at all levels, to pay his entry fees for the event and says, “I am very fortunate to have received that support.”
The 2016 Catlins Coast Rally was Michelle Harris’ first rally and she describes it as a “baptism of fire” due to the icy conditions encountered on the day. However she and young co-driver, Jared Hudson of Christchurch also in his first rally, made the finish and they now line up for their second tilt at Catlins in Michelle’s Suzuki Baleno, both with support from the Paddon Foundation.
For Michelle, who has a limited budget, it has been gratefully received. “It is great. It has provided me with a new set of rally tyres.”
The Eastern Southland Car Club link with the Paddon Foundation has ensured Harris and Hudson receive free entry into the event and with Hudson being a recipient of a Paddon Foundation grant as well as Harris the support of the Foundation has allowed Hudson to purchase much required safety equipment. “It is so good to be able to get my own stuff rather than borrow gear.”
When he was growing up Hudson watched Hayden Paddon forging his international career and now the Paddon Foundation is helping Hudson achieve his own goals. “That is the really good thing,” says Hudson.
The 2017 Catlins Coast Rally is Round 5 of the Stadium Finance Mainland Rally Championship and also a points round for the ESCC Rally Championship Trophy.
The event is scheduled to depart from Owaka Motors in Campbell Street, Owaka at 10am on 12 August. The rally will be based in Owaka this year with servicing of the rally cars taking place in the township between stages. Six Special Stages await competitors before the rally finishes in Owaka at approximately 3.44pm.