Paddon wraps up seventh NZ Rally Championship
New Zealand rally stars Hayden Paddon and John Kennard have won the one-day Rally Bay of Plenty to win the 2023 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship. This is Paddon’s seventh NZRC title – a new New Zealand record – and Kennard’s sixth co-driver’s championship title.
The rally took place on Sunday 15 October, starting in Whakatane and heading west towards Te Puke, during a mix of fine and rainy conditions. Twelve special stages were scheduled but SS7 was cancelled for safety reasons.
Paddon and Kennard, from Cromwell and Blenheim respectively, won the rally by 29.6 seconds from Kiwi Supercars star Shane van Gisbergen who had Australian co-driver Glen Weston alongside.
It wasn’t quite the dominant win fans are used to seeing from Paddon in the Hyundai i20 Rally 2 car in a situation he described as “a few small issues meant things didn’t gel quite as they normally do”. Paddon and Kennard topped the time charts for eight of the 11 special stages, while van Gisbergen won the other three stages.
It’s been a big year for the Kiwi rally star, having recently secured his first FIA European Rally Championship title in commanding style, as well as winning the 2023 Tour European Rally title courtesy of his victories at Rally Otago and Rally Barbados.
Winning the New Zealand Rally Championship still means a lot to Paddon and Kennard, who never forget their original supporters.
“Obviously it’s awesome to get the job done and win the championship which is what we’ve come here to do,” says Paddon. “We’ve wrapped up a big year here in the Bay of Plenty with this win. Massive credit to the team and the amount of work everyone’s put in this year, and all in all, we’re delighted to top off a pretty successful season. While today didn’t go exactly to plan and, in some ways, it was a pretty tough day for us, we did what we had to do. We got the job done and we enjoyed it.
“We were very close to that 100 per cent stage win record here, so while it’s a shame not to achieve that, it is what it is. Shane did an awesome job and you can’t take that away from him. But when things don’t quite feel right in the car, there is no point pushing too hard and taking unnecessary risks when things aren’t gelling. In my old age, I’m getting wiser and learn you’ve got to take the chill pill some days.”
Next up for Paddon and the PRG group is the Waimate hillclimb over Labour Weekend where they’ll compete in the hillclimb-spec Hyundai i20 AP4 car which recently won the Ashley Forest Rallysprint.
Paddon and Hyundai New Zealand Rally appreciate the support of Hyundai New Zealand, Mitre 10 Trade, Z Energy, Makita, Open Country, Bars Bugs, Pirelli, OMP/Racer Products, Winmax Brake Pads, South Canterbury Road Safety, Ben Nevis Station, Bailey Caravans, Repco NZ, Highlands Motorsport Park, MITO, ETCO, Jacanna Freight, Pak N’ Save, Machinery House, Bartercard, Mike Greer Homes, Provident Insurance, Zealandia Systems, Carters Tyres and Signbiz.
Keep up with news on Hayden Paddon and the Hyundai New Zealand Rally team via the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/paddonracinggroup.