Paddon dominates day one in Whangarei

WRC rally winner Hayden Paddon continued where he left off in Otago as he stormed to a dominant overnight lead in the Mark Cromie Motor Group International Rally of Whangarei on Saturday.

Paddon held a lead of over three minutes 40 in his Hyundai New Zealand i20 AP4 and won all eight of the day’s stages.

Josh Marston (RDL Holden Barina) edged Ben Hunt (Skoda New Zealand Fabia R5) by just 0.2 seconds after the latter suffered a puncture late in the penultimate stage and dropped some time.

It was good reward for Marston, who sadly missed the season-opening event due to contracting COVID.

Youngster Ari Pettigrew was fourth in his Holden Barina after an impressive and measured mistake-free drive. Pettigrew was 32 seconds back from Hunt.

Raana Horan recovered from an early spin in his Generator Rental Services Skoda Fabia R5 to be fifth and just 26.9s further back.

Kingsley Jones (Auckland Denture Clinic Skoda Fabia R5) was sixth, 15.8 seconds back from the sister car, while Matt Summerfield (Mitsubishi Mirage AP4), Phil Campbell (Ford Fiesta), Jack Hawkeswood (Toyota Yaris) and Dave Sievers (Subaru Impreza) completed the top 10.

The big casualties of the day were Robbie Stokes (Ford Fiesta), Emma Gilmour (Suzuki Swift) and Todd Bawden (Ford Fiesta), who all failed to finish.

Stokes re-joined and managed to finish second in the power stage but wasn’t able to complete the afternoon lap with mechanical issues. Gilmour too suffered mechanical gremlins while Bawden had a gearbox issue on the opening stage that ruled him out for the rest of the day.

Sievers turned heads with an impressive performance to win the one-day Rally Challenge event – beating out Haydn Mackenzie (Mitsubishi Lancer) by 19.4 seconds. Bryn Smith drove sensibly to complete the podium in his Mitsubishi Lancer.

Andy Martin (Ford Fiesta) was victorious in the Rally Challenge 2WD class – finishing 24.4 seconds in front of Sam Byrne’s Mitsubishi Lancer. Jono Shapley completed the podium in his Toyota.

Jackson Clendon got faster and faster throughout the day in his new Ford Fiesta Rally4 car to take a lead of 35 seconds over Jordan Grant (Suzuki Swift) in the NZRC 2WD class and overall 2WD.

Dylan Thomson had led early in the day but suffered from mechanical issues throughout the afternoon – he fell to third in class and fourth in overall 2WD standings.

John Silcock (Mazda RX7) came out on top of Anthony Jones (Ford Escort) and Shane Murland (Ford Escort) in the Historic 2WD class. Silcock will take a lead of almost 30 seconds into Sunday’s stages.

Veteran driver Dave Strong enjoyed a terrific day in his Honda Jazz to lead Open 2WD from Dan Haines (Ford Escort) and Peter Farrell in the Mazda RX7.

Sunday’s action features a further eight stages south and west of Whangarei.


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