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Hayden Paddon claims 10th Otago Rally

Hayden Paddon has taken every stage win on his way to a commanding victory at the Winmax Brakes Otago Rally.

Driving their Hyundai New Zealand i20 N Rally2 for the first time in 2023, nobody was able to get close to the former WRC event winner, as he extended his overnight lead on each stage to conclude the rally with a winning margin of over four minutes.

In the day’s stages south of Dunedin, he and co-driver John Kennard were again untouchable, continuing to show why he is New Zealand’s greatest rally driver.

His dominance also included several stage records, including beating his previous best time on Kuri Bush by five tenths of a second.

Behind him was the Holden Barina AP4 of Ari Pettigrew, who was the ‘best of the rest’ for most of the weekend. He took second place by over 30 seconds from multiple NZRC champion Ben Hunt.

Hunt’s day two goal was to catch Pettigrew after a few driving mistakes on day one, but Pettigrew showed class beyond his years to hold off the fast charging Skoda driver.

Raana Horan finished fourth in his Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo, a further minute back from the final podium place, while fifth place went to Emma Gilmour in the debut run for her Citroen C3 R5.

Gilmour’s fifth place finish backs up the same placing in her home rally last season, and continues on a strong start to her 2023 motorsport season.

Following Gimour in fifth were the AP4s of Josh Marston (Holden) and Robbie Stokes (Ford), while Clint Cunningham (Skoda) and Andy Martin (VW) flew the R5 flag.

Todd Bawden’s overnight seventh place quickly unraveled, when just 9km into the day’s opening stage, he hit a big rock on the inside of a right hand corner. He failed to complete the Waipori Gorge stage, and his rally ended prematurely.

Jack Hawkeswood’s Toyota GR Yaris sat sixth at the beginning of day two, but an incident in SS10 was his downfall. He lost a wheel and was forced into retirement.

The first two-wheel drive car was that of Jackson Clendon, who also managed to get a top 10 placing in the NZRC section of the event.

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