Championship scenarios and contenders – Part 3
As we head to our final event of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship for 2023 we take a look at the overall points situation.
Jeff Ward holds a three-point lead over young rival Zeal Jones. Ward currently holds the tie-break advantage so Jones would need to beat Ward in the rally and in the power stage if they were to first finish and second. 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 and this should be a great battle, 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. Just one point separates Matt Sayers and Matt Hayward, with tie break in favour of Sayers. The battle for third is wide open.
Dylan Thomson had it all sewn up, until he got to Manfeild…
He needs just two points to wrap up the championship. Finishing should do it or finishing fourth or better in the power stage. So far, he’s been first or second in each power stage.
Second is a big battle, Historic 2WD champ John Silcock is five points ahead of Byrn Jones, who is a further three ahead of Jackson Clendon. Any of these drivers can’t afford a slip up and any of them could be second or third.
Tim Mackersy and Stewart Reid remain in theoretical contention for second and third but would need big points scores and DNF’s ahead of them.
The situation is the same for their co-drivers Baden Thomson in the box seat but with Donna Elder, Sean Lockyear and Tania Cresswell in the mix. Lauren Mackersy and Bella Haggerty are an outside chance.
This is a two-horse race between six-time champion Hayden Paddon and South Canterbury winner 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 only 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, ninth if two power stage points etc.
Given Paddon’s form over the past few seasons, Horan’s best bet is if Paddon were to DNF – Horan would need to finish eighth or score power stage points and be no worse than 13th.
Third place is likely to go to Ben Hunt with only Eugene Creugnet challenging – the New Caledonian driver would need to finish third with a stack of power stage points to get in front.
The co-drivers’ title is already wrapped up with John Kennard securing that at Daybreaker.
Third will likely be wrapped up by Ben, only Creugnet can challenge but would need a third good haul of power stage points to make it happen.