Hayden Paddon seals fifth NZRC title with Rally Hawkes Bay win
Hayden Paddon claimed the 2021 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship by winning the Kennedy Park Resort Napier Rally Hawke’s Bay on Saturday in comprehensive fashion.
The WRC rally winner joins Richard Mason as the most successful driver in the history of the championship with his fifth title, secured with a round to spare. His previous wins came in 2008, 2009, 2013 and 2018.
He will equal Mason’s record with the most all-time rally wins if he goes on to victory at Rally Coromandel in September and become the first driver to make a clean sweep of all events in a calendar year.
In the championship’s first visit to Hawke’s Bay in a decade, Paddon was never troubled in his Hyundai New Zealand i20 AP4 as he claimed victory by nearly four minutes.
Behind him Robbie Stokes was finally able to complete an event in the blistering form he has demonstrated in patches this season before mechanical disaster has robbed him of a result.
The Ford Fiesta AP4 driver was easily the best of the rest – finishing second to Paddon on all six stages – as he gets his first ever NZRC podium finish with a performance that underlines his credentials as the nearest challenger to Paddon.
Raana Horan completed the podium in his Generator Rental Services Skoda Fabia R5, coming out on top of a rally-long battle with 2019 champion Ben Hunt (Hydraulink Subaru).
Todd Bawden jumped two spots on the final stage with a last-gasp push to be fifth in his older Online Contractors Mitsubishi EVO 6. It was good enough to win him the category 1A championship in the car’s final event before he unleashes his new Ford Fiesta R5 at Coromandel.
Mike Young produced an impressive drive to sixth in the Cusco Subaru, while Matt Summerfield was seventh in the Andrew Simms Mitsubishi Mirage AP4.
Dylan Thomson took a superb overall 2WD victory at Hawke’s Bay, besting a chasing pack of Ford Escorts, while confirming victory in the FIA Group N 2WD and securing his 2021 championship in the same category.
Shane Murland edged Anthony Jones and Jeff Judd in a brilliant three-way battle in the historic 2WD class – all three drivers competing in Ford Escorts.
Brent Taylor (Toyota 86) was too strong for Bruce Herbert (Mitsubishi Lancer EX) in the open 2WD battle, taking victory by just over a minute.
Quentin Palmer drove a composed event to win the Rally Challenge 4WD and make a significant move towards winning the title in his Mitsubishi EVO 5.
Andy Martin (Subaru) settled for second and took home some more points in his title battle with Palmer. David Sievers was third in the class in his Subaru.
Shaun Haggerty (Subaru) got the better of Matt Adams (Mitsubishi) in the Group A battle while Justin Glavish (Toyota Starlet) took a commanding victory in the Rally Challenge 2WD category as he finished well ahead of Steve Cox (Toyota Starlet) and Daniel Haines (Ford Escort).