Gray gives herself a shot at repeat outing

Sam Gray sat with Hayden Paddon in Whangarei. Photo / Geoff Ridder

Co-driver Samantha Gray impressed enough sitting alongside former WRC star Hayden Paddon that she may have earned another drive with the Hyundai operation.

Gray, who usually co-drives for Regan Ross in the historic 2WD class, got a one-off opportunity to co-drive for Paddon at last weekend’s International Rally of Whangarei in the Hyundai New Zealand i20 AP4+.

The pair dominated the event to take overall honours but Gray was left nearly speechless with the speed that Paddon drives at.

“It was unbelievable how fast that car can go,” Gray said. “It is next level of New Zealand car and I just can’t believe how fast it is.

“Words can’t describe it.

“It is going to be hard going back – I definitely learned heaps and I can’t thank Hyundai New Zealand, Hayden, Pinnacle and everyone that has helped me get to this point,” Gray added.

Paddon acknowledged how well Gray performed in her one-off opportunity.

“She did a phenomenal job – it was obviously a difficult start on the Saturday morning with the fog and pretty technical stages and she adjusted quite quickly,” Paddon said.

“Then from Saturday lunchtime onward she made a massive leap and exceeded my expectations hugely.

“It was very impressive what she has done – I couldn’t have asked for any more.”

And she is a chance of joining Paddon for a second Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship event again in 2019.

Paddon is confirmed to compete at Rally South Canterbury in late June and will almost certainly need another young co-driver.

“I have got to discuss it with people – I think John [regular co-driver John Kennard] is away in Europe so it could be a chance for Sam to get back in the car.

“We will have to discuss it .”

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.

Samantha Gray poses for a photo with Hayden Paddon. Photo / Geoff Ridder

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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