Kiwi WRC driver Hayden Paddon jets back from the muddy WRC tracks of Wales for this Saturday’s Hyundai NZ Raglan Rally of the Coast with a straightforward goal in mind – to win the rally and secure the New Zealand Rally Championship manufacturers’ title for Hyundai New Zealand.
Paddon will again be joined by Blenheim’s John Kennard as his co-driver for the one-day rally which comprises a repeated loop of four special stages around host town Raglan. The stages are well-known for their regular appearance in World Rally Championship editions of Rally New Zealand in the not-so-distant past.
Paddon is rapt to be driving these roads in his Hyundai i20 AP+ rally car, now returned to its usual NZRC spec after the Ashley Forest Rallysprint in late September. Paddon and Kennard last contested these testing and uniquely New Zealand special stages in 2017 during the two-day Rally New Zealand.
“It promises to be a great day of rallying,” says Paddon. “I’m very excited to get out on some of the best roads in the world and some of New Zealand’s most iconic rally stages.
“It’s great to have already wrapped up the NZRC drivers’ title at the previous round in Coromandel, but it would mean a lot to Hyundai New Zealand to win the manufacturers’ title. They have invested a lot into New Zealand rallying over the past three years since we debuted the AP4+ rally car, so I’d really like to bring this home for them.
“In the manufacturers’ standings, we currently have 100 points, trailing Subaru by just one point. Essentially, whoever wins the rally wins the manufacturers’ championship. It will go down to the wire between Subaru NZ’s lead driver Ben Hunt and myself.”
The NZRC also runs a self-nominated teams’ leader-board where Paddon has teamed up with young Jack Williamson in a team they dubbed the ‘tortoise and the hare’. Paddon and Williamson have a 34-point advantage in the team’s competition over Holden Barina drivers Greg Murphy and Josh Marston.
The Raglan event is the final NZRC round for 2018 and takes place on Saturday 13 October, with the forecast indicates rain in the Waikato region. The route includes just over 170km of special stages will be run in the Raglan area, including well-known and popular stages Te Akau South and Whaanga Coast. The first competitor leaves the Raglan airfield at 7.30am heading for two repeated runs on the Kauri Flat and the Matira stages. Following a lunchtime service back at the airfield, they head out for a repeated loop of Te Akau South and Whaanga Coast. The ceremonial finish is at the Raglan Club on Bow Street.