Paddon leads after opening day as Bligh claims Gull Rally Challenge

Copyright Geoff Ridder

New Zealand’s World Rally Championship star Hayden Paddon leads Rally New Zealand after the opening day that has seen multiple teams suffer major tyre issues. Wellington’s Adam Bligh has taken victory in the one-day Gull Rally Challenge class to see him claim the overall title for the year.

Bligh and co-driver Ric Chalmers set a blinding pace early on to sit second to Paddon outright and lead the challenge before time penalties as his team attempted to fix a misfire saw him drop down the leader board. That would not be enough to stop him charging back, eventually leading home Richard Bateman/Jordyn Smith by 29.2 seconds, with Warwick Redfern/Ron Bartels a further 30.4 seconds back in third.

Copyright Geoff Ridder

The results saw Bligh win the Gull Rally Challenge for the year, which is contested across the opening day of each event, with three of the first five rounds plus the final counting towards the final score. Results saw him seven points ahead of Bateman, with Whakatane’s Jono Shapley and Sam Byrne’s consistent run earning them third place for the season.

The four-wheel drive class within the Challenge saw Bateman head home Bligh and Shapley, with David Taylor and Pania Huntley claiming the two-wheel drive title with a second place, with enough points to beat event winners Daniel Alexander/Richard Burnett and Deane Buist/Karl Celeste.

The battle for the title of New Zealand Rally Champion continues tomorrow, with Andrew Hawkeswood and Jeff Cress having extended their lead to 14 points with just six special stages remaining over Matt & Nicole Summerfield.


About The Author

Event & Series Updates


New Zealand Rally Championship

1 day 16 hours ago

Rally Hawke's Bay returns to the NZRC after 10 years. Stunning roads. Enjoy all the action from the 4WD class highlights. Hayden Paddon Stokes MotorSport Team Ralliart New Zealand Ari Pettigrew Ben Hunt Matt Summerfield Rally James Dunlop MotorSport New Zealand HELLA Dunlop Tyres Australia & New Zealand Omega Rental

New Zealand Rally Championship

1 day 22 hours ago

Dropping tonight at 5! Catch the 4WD Rally Hawke's Bay Highlights here on Facebook or on our YouTube channel - NZRC.TV Hayden Paddon Stokes MotorSport Team Ralliart New Zealand Ari Pettigrew Ben Hunt MotorSport New Zealand HELLA Dunlop Tyres Australia & New Zealand Omega Rental Cars Ltd

New Zealand Rally Championship

2 days 12 hours ago

#ThursdayNightRecce - This week, BB & Budgie check out the weekend's action amongst the Category 1 competitors, with lots of battles amongst the finishers there were plenty of talking points #NZRC #Rockstars #BrianGreenPropertyGroup #DrivenByDunlop #Dunlop #Hella #SafetyDayLights #HellaMoments #OmegaRentalCars #UpFrontAndHonest #Rally #WRC

New Zealand Rally Championship

3 days 17 hours ago

RALLY MAP // Here it is - the 2021 Dayle ITM Goldrush Rally of Coromandel Map! We are super excited to be back this year in Whitianga on 3-4 September. Download the PDF here: See you soon! #RallyNZ #NZRC #dayleitm Farmer Autovillage


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 2019, there are six NZRC rounds, each with a unique character reflecting the diverse regions – from Northland to Otago.