Hayden Paddon claims sixth NZ Rally Championship
Paddon secures sixth title on Rally NZ opening day
Hayden Paddon has claimed his sixth Brian Green Property New Zealand Rally Championship after a brilliant opening leg of Repco Rally New Zealand.
The one-time WRC rally winner blitzed the WRC2 field and stormed to a dominant national championship victory in the fifth round of the series by one minute and 37 seconds in the Hyundai R5.
Paddon becomes the single most winning driver in the history of the championship by becoming the only person to win six overall NZRC titles. He also has more rally wins than any other driver.
Supercars ace Shane van Gisbergen underlined his all-round driving talent to claim second in his Skoda Fabia R5 while Matt Summerfield continued his strong late season form to finish third in the Mitsubishi Mirage AP4.
Ben Hunt, who started the day second in the standings and in the title fight, crashed heavily on the final stage of the day in his Skoda New Zealand R5.
That meant Todd Bawden scored a fourth-place finish in the Online Contractors Ford Fiesta R5 while Kingsley Jones grabbed a top five finish in the Auckland Denture Clinic Skoda R5.
Hadyn Mackenzie finished an impressive sixth in the Toyota Yaris AP4 with Jack Hawkeswood surviving some gremlins in the debut event for his Toyota Yaris.
Dylan Thomson took a significant step towards winning the NZRC Group N 2WD class as well as the overall 2WD title after a solid day in his Ford Fiesta.
The Christchurch-based Thomson won both categories to boost his championship points tally.
He headed off Charlie Evans (Honda Civic) and Antony Te Rito (Honda Civic) in the class.
John Silcock claimed the Historic 2WD title in his Mazda RX7 but lost ground to Thomson in the overall 2WD battle, which will go down to the final day tomorrow.
Dan Haines took a significant step towards winning the Open 2WD title after taking the day win in his Ford Escort. He headed home veteran Stumpy Holmes (Ford Escort) and McCrae Sloper (BMW E36) while title rival Dave Strong (Honda Jazz) was fourth.
Bryn Smith enjoyed an outstanding day in his 50ONE50 Mitsubishi Lancer to win the Rally Challenge 4WD class for the day and take the title battle into a final day. Championship leader Jeff Ward had to settle for second in his Subaru WRX while Sean Haggerty was third in a Subaru Impreza.
Jonty Brenssell produced a stunning drive to win the Rally Challenge 2WD class but more impressively was second overall 2WD for the day in his Toyota Starlet.
The final round of the 2022 NZRC season will take place on Saturday’s second leg of Repco Rally New Zealand – with six stages north of Auckland city to test the country’s best drivers.