From the Service Park – summer special
The NZRC Live crew were in attendance at Dylan Thomson’s wedding over the weekend and were able to gain some valuable insights ahead of the 2024 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship.
It was great to be able to celebrate with Dylan – one of the championship’s real good guys – as he and partner Sheridan tied the knot on the West Coast.
It was cool to see a few rally cars used as the wedding vehicles, delivering Sheridan and her bridesmaids to the ceremony, while rally was a theme of the day.
We also had our eyes and ears open with a number of NZRC personnel attending and boy did we hit the jackpot…
Every season we get a bit of co-driver idol and as one move is confirmed the next domino falls but this off-season is like nothing we’ve seen before.
There is rumoured to be so much movement it is easier just to nominate those crews that won’t be changing.
We expect Hayden and John to defend their crown – at least in whatever events they take part in (see below). I think we can lock in Ben Hunt and Tony Rawstorn together but after that it all starts to get murky.
We are hearing a lot of big names are swapping seats and while some crews will continue from last season, none appear to be locked in so watch this space.
Reset means open championship
The 2024 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship could well be one that looks a little different from previous seasons.
While we await to see what Hayden Paddon’s schedule looks like there has been some big movement at the pointy end.
Emma Gilmour returns for a likely full campaign in a competitive car, a rejuvenated Robbie Stokes and Jack Hawkeswood will be back while Josh Marston has more miles than anyone else on new control tyre MRF.
Also, keep an eye out for a talented youngster joining the big guns this season.
Throw in a stack of driver/co-driver swaps and we have a wide open championship to look forward to in a few weeks’ time.
Hayden’s 2024 plans
Just what are Hayden Paddon’s plans for 2024? Every person we speak to has heard a different so-called rumour but our understanding is that Hayden, himself isn’t completely decided yet.
We’ve heard of him taking on the Australian championship, the American championship and defending his European crown so who knows?
What we do know is he will start the season as an overwhelming favourite for an unprecedented eighth national championship should he compete in every round. The question will be whether he competes in every round however.
Ramsay changes colours
Lukas Ramsay was in good spirits at the Thomson wedding and served as a driver escorting some of the bridal party.
Our sources tell us he has taken a shine to the colour pink and is likely to sport an updated livery in 2024 as a result so look out for that.
He’s not likely for the whole championship but is set perhaps for a cameo.
Comeback of sorts
Which former NZRC rally winner is set to enter the Group A Challenge in 2024? If the whispers prove true, it will shake up that championship in a big way.
Sydney or the bush
Speaking of that class – two big personalities are likely to be in a car together at Otago in what will either be the ultimate combo or a recipe for a damaged car.
Watch this space!
We’re hearing Carter Strang and Mark McMillan will be joining the Rally Challenge 4WD class in 2024 to further boost what is likely to be a strong field.
Big brother was watching
Who was caught in a compromised position on security film at a hotel on the West Coast after Thomson’s wedding?
The unsuspecting individual didn’t realise cameras were operating. While there was nothing illegal or inappropriate behaviour caught on tape, the NZRC driver would be VERY embarrassed if footage got out.
Celeb to join Otago
Finally, I’m hearing another big-name guest driver has been secured for the upcoming Otago Rally.
They’ll be worth looking out for down south.