Hayden Paddon has won the final round of the 2018 New Zealand Rally Championship in Raglan in his Hyundai i20 AP4+ car, giving Hyundai New Zealand their first-ever NZRC manufacturers’ championship title.
Paddon made the win look easy with a margin of nearly five and a half minutes over second-placed Ben Hunt, having set the fastest stage times on all eight special stages of the one-day Hyundai NZ Raglan Rally of the Coast. However, Paddon, with Malcolm Read alongside as co-driver in a late change from the usual John Kennard, had to manage a few driveline niggles to bring the car home safely in first place.
“It was a bit tense today with a driveline problem we were trying to keep on top of,” says Paddon, who wrapped up his fourth NZRC drivers’ title at the previous round in Coromandel, his first title in the Hyundai. “We had to take it relatively easy, and kept our fingers and toes crossed to the end of the last stage which made it exciting. Our team did a really great job to keep the car going, and we made little repairs as we went along – too many more stages and we might have been in trouble. Once again, a big team effort is what got the car over the line.”
Paddon is delighted to have secured the manufacturers’ title for Hyundai New Zealand. “It’s a fantastic result for Hyundai New Zealand – they have put a lot into the New Zealand Rally Championship and the Hyundai New Zealand Rally Team (Paddon Rallysport) over the past three years. It’s great to bring home the manufacturer’s title for them – it’s a big part of what we wanted to achieve this season.”
He says the 171.80 km of special stages were in excellent condition and fantastic to drive. “The stages this morning had a bit of wet to them and were really, really nice; some of the best condition I’ve ever seen them and really enjoyable to drive. This afternoon dried out a lot more than we expected and as usual, Whaanga Coast offers a sting in the tail and it’s never over until the end of the last stage.”
Paddon enjoys rallying at home as much as he does in other parts of the world. “Everyone loves these stages around Raglan and I think they’re some of the best in the world. We covered plenty of kilometres today – the roads are in really good condition and certainly present a big challenge. It’s probably one of the more challenging rallies of the season, especially because of the number of kilometres you do in one day.”
The 25 points Paddon secured for Hyundai in the manufacturers’ championship meant they finished with 125 points, just two points ahead of Subaru which had a one-point lead going into this final round. As Paddon said prior to the Raglan event, whichever of he or Hunt won the rally would win the title for their manufacturer.
Paddon’s last event of 2018 is the 15-18 November running of WRC Rally Australia where he’ll again be competing for Hyundai Motorsport.