Championship scenarios and contenders – Part 2

This week we take a look at each individual class within the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship to see what the battle looks like heading into the final round.

Group A

Tim Smith currently holds a nine-point lead, but he is not going to be competing at Bay of Plenty, throwing the title wide open. Behind Smith a fascinating battle looms with Paul Cross, Amy Keighly and James MacDonald separated by just one point, making Bay of Plenty effectively a winner-takes-all shootout, although a standout performance from Nick Marston (who is seven points further adrift) could upset the apple cart.

The co-driver battle will see the same contenders Janey Blair (Cross), Nikita Gibson (Keighley) and Josh Edwards (MacDonald) separated by a solitary point. With Tim Smith using two different co-drivers, it really makes this a three-horse race.

Cat 5b

Brett Maddren and Jared Parker are locked together on top – both on 52 points, although a win for Maddren would give him the tie break advantage over a pair of seconds for Parker should they remain locked together.

Obviously, it looms as a straight battle between the pair at Bay of Plenty, with whoever finishes higher claiming the title.

Jono Shapley remains in mathematical contention, but would be relying on DNF’s for both in front of him He has 30 points from his maximum at Daybreaker.

The co-drivers situation is the same in the class with Kyle Shears and Erik Johnsson locked together on 52 points apiece.

Cat 5a

The battle of the master and the apprentice, which has been a theme in this class all season will come to an exciting conclusion on the Bay of Plenty gravel. Jeff Ward holds a slender three-point lead, and currently holds the tie-break advantage, over Zeal Jones.

Assuming the pair battle for first and second at Bay of Plenty, Jones would need to beat Ward on the rally and power stage. If they slip further back, the gap becomes bigger for Jones. If they were second and third, Jones would also need to beat Ward by two positions in the power stage.

Third is currently Tim Smith, with Brian Green, Paul Cross and James Macdonald all in realistic touching distance.

Given the format with the first two rounds plus the final, nine drivers as far back as Grant Blackberry are in theoretical contention.

Co-drivers is even closer. One point separates Matt Sayers and Matt Hayward, with tie break in favour of Sayers. The battle for third is wide open.

Cat 4

This is the one class that was decided at Daybreaker with defending champions John Silcock and Donna Elder confirmed as our 2023 champions and Stewart Reid and Bella Haggarty guaranteed to finish second. A finish at Bay of Plenty will be enough for Mike and Helen Cameron to secure third.

Cat 3

With Glenn Alcorn almost guaranteed not to start after his big shunt at Daybreaker, that leaves the title to reigning champion Daniel Haines, who has an unassailable lead. Dave Strong or JP van der Meys could leap-frog Alcorn for second place however.

Alcorn has 83 points, Van der Meyes has 60 and Strong 54. Strong would need max points for rally and power stage, van der Meys would require second and fifth in power stage.

Peter Farrell remains in the mix ford third place, he can’t beat Alcorn, but would need to outscore van der Meys by 10 (effectively needs him not to finish) and Strong by four (beat on road and power stage) to jump them.

Matt Priest has already secured co-drivers title with Corinne Cutler (60), Carol Liston (54) and Cole Robinson (51) battling out the minor placings.

Cat 2

A finish will be enough for Dylan Thomson to win. If he DNF’s, Bryn Jones is the only possible title rival after he secured a break-through win at Daybreaker. Jones would need to score 23 points (a win or second and power stage points).

Tim Mackersy is currently third, seven points ahead of Jackson Clendon. This could be an interesting battle. Clendon was top 2WD at non-championship round in 2020. If Clendon won and Mackersy finished fourth or fifth, it would be decided on the power stage result, the higher finish taking third. If Mackersy finished third, he’d need to be one position behind Clendon in the power stage. If Mackersy finished second to Clendon, Mackersy would need to be fourth in power stage if Clendon won. If Clendon finished second, the equation gets harder. With only five entries, if Mackersy finished fifth, he’d need to drop no more than two power stage points.

Charlie Evans could claim third, but would need both Clendon and Mackersy to DNF.

The co-driver situation is exactly the same – Baden Thomson needs only to finish to win the title.

Sean Lockyer holds second, Lauren Mackersy third and Tania Cresswell fourth.

Dayna Kiekebosch remains an outside chance of finishing third if those in front slip up. 

Cat 1

Our premier class has become a two-horse race after Daybreaker with six-time champion Hayden Paddon battling Raana Horan. Paddon looks odds-on to take title number seven. Horan needs to out-score Paddon by 15 points.

If Raana was to take max points for power stage and rally win, Hayden would need to finish eighth and score no power stage points for Horan to win. If Paddon scores a power stage point, eighth is enough for the championship.

Ben Hunt looks odds-on for third place – Eugene Creugnet is the only possible challenger but he would need to finish third with a good haul of power stage points to jump Hunt.

John Kennard wrapped up another co-drivers title at the Daybreaker Rally, with Horan’s regular co-driver Michael Connor unable to compete.

Tony Rawstorn is likely for second here, with Connor still missing. Philippe Delrieu is 23 points behind Rawstorn and 18 behind the injured Connor.


About The Author


The New Zealand Rally Championship is this country’s premier nationwide rally championship. It attracts New Zealand’s best drivers to compete in numerous categories for the prestigious MotorSport New Zealand-sanctioned rally championship titles. In 2024, there are six NZRC rounds, each with a unique character reflecting the diverse regions – from Northland to Invercargill