Field set for 2023 season opener in Otago

A total of 45 competitors will line up in the opening round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship in Otago from April 1-2.

Defending national champion Hayden Paddon headlines the field, fresh off winning his European Rally season opener in Portugal over the weekend.

Paddon will pilot the Hyundai New Zealand Rally 2 car this season.

He will face stiff competition from the likes of two time national champion Ben Hunt (Skoda New Zealand Fabia R5), Otago locals Emma Gilmour (Citroen C3) and Ari Pettigrew (Manukau Auto Centre Holden Barina AP4) and the lightning-fast Robbie Stokes (Team Hutchison Ford Fiesta AP4).

In all, there are 18 competitors entered in the NZRC 4WD class, including Australian Richie Dalton in the Skoda Fabia R5 owned by Kingsley Jones.

Jackson Clendon (Ford Fiesta Rally 4), Jordan Grant (Suzuki Swift) and Tim Mackersy (Ford Fiesta) will look to challenge defending NZRC 2WD champion Dylan Thomson (Ford Fiesta) in what should be a competitive class.

Daniel Haines (Ford Escort) and Dave Strong (Honda Jazz) will pick up their rivalry in the Open 2WD class from last season while they will also have to contend with Charlie Evans (Honda Civic), Australian Glenn Alcorn (Ford Escort), John-Paul van der Mays (Ford Fiesta) and Peter Farrell (Mazda RX7).

John Silcock (Mazda RX7), Stewart Reid (Mazda RX7), Tony Gosling (Ford Escort) and Tim McIver (Ford Escort) will battle it out in the Historic 2WD class.

Jonty Brenssell (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO 9) makes the step up to Rally Challenge 4WD in 2023 and will immediately challenge defending series champion Jeff Ward (Subaru Impreza) this year. The pair will need to hold off Dave Ollis (Subaru Impreza WRX) and Brian Green (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO9).

Sam Byrne (Mitsubishi Lancer) is the sole entrant in Rally Challenge 2WD.

A strong field of Group A classics will duke it out including Tim Smith, James Macdonald, Paul Cross, Nick Marston and Amy Keighley, who are all driving Subaru Imprezas.

Otago Rally begins with a ceremonial opening in the Octagon in downtown Dunedin on Friday March 31 before the competition gets underway with two days of rallying on the gravel roads north (Saturday) and south (Sunday) of the city.


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