From the Service Park – Rally Hawke’s Bay

The NZRC team were delighted to be back in the beautiful Hawke’s Bay for the first time in a decade for a round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship.

See what rumours they were able to unearth while there.

Paddon closes in on records
Hayden Paddon drew level with Richard Mason as the most successful driver in the history of the New Zealand Rally Championship with his fifth national title.
Paddon, who has previously won the championship in 2008, 2009, 2013 and 2018, claimed his fourth successive round win to take an unassailable lead into the finale at Coromandel in September.
The former WRC rally winner is also one rally win shy of Mason’s overall record of 28 and can draw level if he triumphs at Coromandel.
Paddon would also be the first driver to make a clean sweep of rally wins in a season.

At the car wash
Which driver was spotted washing their car late at night in Napier over the weekend?
We could think of better things to be doing at 11.30pm. In fact, the NZRC crew were on their way home from some of those better things.

Which player made the mistake of posting their bright orange car numbers on their recce car, only to be short for their rally car?
It is fair to say the driver in question may have been out of practice having missed the previous round.

Welcome back
How good was it to see one of the sport’s real nice guys back in action over the weekend?
Brynley Smith contested his first event since his health issues earlier in the year and made a steady return, getting faster and faster.
We look forward to seeing how he goes at Coromandel.

Well that’s a first
There were a couple of first at Hawke’s Bay over the weekend that may have gone unnoticed by most rally fans – but not us.
Sean Haggerty must be the first Scotsman to not only let his wallet out of his sight but to actually lose it whilst in the Service Park.
In an even more surprising first, said wallet must be the first thing ever handed in to someone in Wairoa!

Battling through the pain barrier
Dylan Thomson wrapped up the FIA Group N 2WD class championship on Saturday and was the first overall competitor in 2WD on the back of a superb drive.
Making it all the more amazing is the fact he accomplished it with a sprained and rather sore wrist.
Apparently the injury is a repetitive use issue but it bothered him all weekend.

Trailer escapades
Which car came off its trailer on the way to Napier on Friday? Hint, it was heading down from Auckland and was not at South Canterbury.
Also, I’ve been hearing stories about why Brynley Smith’s trailer snapped a cable over the weekend. My spies in Pukekohe tell me Dylan Turner borrowed it for Otago and has been using it as a means to cart hay around his farm.

You have to love Regan Ross’s approach to rallying. He failed to make it out of SS2 in his Virgin White Ford Fiesta having initially got stuck before suffering a mechanical failure once he finally got going again.
Not wanting to miss some publicity, he then conducted an impromptu television interview on the side of the road in his tighty whities. While Dave Hedge promised to only film him from the chest up there is some sneaky footage doing the rounds.

Not so friendly love nudge
Which grumpy competitor gave someone else a love nudge at control on one of the stages on Saturday?
The driver on the receiving end was going slow and held the person behind up for a good portion of the stage.

Brunt reeling back the years
Veteran rallying personality Don Brunt has long been a regular at NZRC events, wearing his iconic white floppy hat.
On Saturday night however, he reeled back the years when he was asked to provide ID to get into a Napier bar for a post-race drink.
The bar happily accepted his gold card as proof of identification.


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