From the Service Park – Christmas special

‘Twas a fortnight before Christmas and all the through the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship there where tiny whisperings that our ears have picked up on.

Hudson swap the first of many
Jared Hudson’s move to partner Phil Campbell next year is the first of what appears to be many co-driver swaps in the busiest silly season in recent memory.
The youngest Hudson has agreed to move up to category 1 next year and will sit alongside Campbell in the Roofing Store Ford Fiesta AP4.
Mal Peden, who had been with Campbell, is obviously on the move and currently looking for a gig – he has been linked to several seats and might not be far away from an announcement.

Gilmour searching for co-driver
Emma Gilmour, who is hoping to put a horror 2019 season behind her, is on the look-out for a new co-driver in 2020.
Work commitments will keep 2019 co-driver Ben Searcy from filling the role next year.
We understand there are a number of driver and co-driver pairings currently up in the air and once one domino falls the others will follow soon after.
Watch this space.

Paddon’s co-driver idol
After all of the back and forth, toing and froing did we actually find a winner for the former WRC star’s co-driver of the future?
That too could have an impact on co-driver swapping, which according to Rocky Hudson is much like wife swapping.
We can only assume Lisa got the better end of that deal…

Lost in the mail
Is anyone doing Christmas cards in Group A this year?

More R5s on the way?
I’m hearing there could be a couple more R5s heading to the NZRC in the near future. A current driver is working on a deal to bring one out while a well-known motorsport personality is considering a crack at the championship with an R5 car.
Something to keep an eye on before April.

Will Paddon return in 2020?
Hayden Paddon’s rotten luck continued in 2019 with two cameo WRC appearances ruined before he even started the event with M-Sport.
But with New Zealand returning to the WRC calendar in 2020 and the likelihood of a factory team employing him to drive on roads he knows and is suited to, his luck might be about to change.
It also begs the question, will he have a crack at winning another NZRC crown? Paddon would likely have a maximum of four events to score points on before missing the Rally New Zealand finale with a possible works drive.

Two-car team for Gull Rally Challenge
The Manakau Auto Centre Rally Team will expand to two Evo’s in 2020 with Dan Alexander in the ex-Darren Galbraith car while Matt Jensen will join the team with a yet-to-be-announced co-driver.
Alexander won the Gull Rally Challenge 2WD championship this year while Jensen was super impressive in a couple of late season rallies.

Christmas party shenanigans
Which NZRC driver has some explaining to do over unsavoury behaviour with a bad elf?
Spies tell me the incident took place in South Auckland.

Rally community working together
It is great to see the rallying community working together with Jono Shapley building himself a new shed and getting Rob Campbell’s Letts Construction in to assist.
We are unable to confirm if Shapley’s need for a shed came from a discussion with his new wife around skipping the birth of their first born to contest next season’s International Rally of Whangarei.

New car ready for Otago
Which former international driver will sport a brand-new car at Rally Otago in April?
The left-hand drive AP4 car will be an upgrade on their existing car. There is also the flow-on impact to consider – their current car is likely to go to one of the other major contenders, which could change the balance of power in cat one.

Dalton heading to Otago
New Zealand’s favourite Australian-Irishman Richie Dalton will be back in 2020 to contest Rally Otago and the NZRC post-match drinking competition.
Whispers are that it will be in a different Ford however to when he was last here in 2018 and he is considering doing more rallies in it.

Turner needed reindeer help
My sources tell me Dylan Turner had to turn to some reindeer to help pull his sleigh (his Audi AP4) at the local Pukekohe Christmas parade.
Apparently the car broke down/he couldn’t get it in gear/had no-one else to help him and had to beat feet down the main street waving to kids.
Maybe if he had been a good boy this year Santa might have given him a new toy in a couple of weeks!

Have a merry Christmas and safe holiday period from us all at NZRC. See you in 2020!

The 2019 New Zealand Rally Championship is proudly supported by Brian Green Property Group, Gull New Zealand, Dunlop New Zealand, HELLA New Zealand, Stadium Finance, Omega Rental Cars and Suzuki New Zealand.


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