Paddon top as Hunt wins battle for second
WRC star Hayden Paddon won the ENEOS International Rally of Whangarei on Sunday but Subaru driver Ben Hunt topped the fierce battle between the rest of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship.
Paddon won every stage of the event in his Hyundai i20 AP4+ to take his second successive victory by over seven minutes from Hunt.
“I’m pretty happy. We set some pretty high targets this weekend,” Paddon said.
“I have really enjoyed it this weekend and everything is going smoothly.
“With the package we have got, we are pretty close with what we can do with it.”
Hunt earned his second successive second-place finish to Paddon while looking opening up a solid lead over the chasing bunch on Saturday.
Australian rally champion Nathan Quinn struggled to live up to his own expectations on Saturday as he over-drove the Neil Allport-prepared Ford Fiesta R5. He improved on Sunday however and managed to get by Emma Gilmour for third overall.
Gilmour showed good pace for the second event running and traded times with Hunt, Quinn and 2017 championship runner-up Matt Summerfield on Sunday.
“It is a fantastic result,” Hunt said. “We are really happy with where the car is at and I’m not sure there is much more we can do with it.”
Dylan Turner survived a small off early on Sunday to finish fifth while Josh Marston was sixth in the Holden Barina.
Dylan Thomson and Amy Hudson stormed to victory in the class two 2WD category in their Ford Fiesta – their second straight win this season. The Honda of David Taylor and Jared Hudson were second while Amy Keighley and Heather Johnston were third.
Tony Gosling and Blair Read drove their Ford Escort to victory in the class 3 open 2WD class to upstage Otago winners Wayne Pittams and Chris Davison.
Regan Ross and Sam Gray produced a superb drive in the class 4 2WD category in their Ford Escort, easing to victory by almost four minutes over the Mazda RX7 of John Silcock and Grant Marra. Ross and Gray were given the Dunlop Driver of the Rally award for being the first overall 2WD car in eight position overall.
Keighley was handed the Hella Moment of the Rally for her roll on Saturday, which failed to halt her charge. She soldiered on to complete the rally on Sunday despite the car missing a few bits.
The next event on the calendar is the Lone Star Canterbury Rally on Queens Birthday Weekend.
The 2018 New Zealand Rally Championship is proudly supported by Brian Green Property Group, Gull New Zealand, Dunlop New Zealand, Hella New Zealand and Stadium Finance