Paddon picking wide open title fight
The 2018 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Champion Hayden Paddon is picking a close championship fight this season and is fascinated by how it will play out.
The former WRC star will contest select events at home in New Zealand this season but is eagerly awaiting the battle at the front of the NZRC like any other rallying fan as a host of drivers line up to take his crown.
“I think it is going to be really close,” Paddon said. “I am actually quite interested to see how the battle is going to go as well.
“I think Ben [Hunt] probably has the target painted on his back at the moment but there’s so many there chipping at his heels. From Ben to anywhere in the top eight I think you can throw a blanket over it.
“The regulars – Emma [Gilmour], Dylan [Turner], Brendan [Reeves] will be a key part of that but he is obviously missing a rally so that will work against him in the overall scheme of things.
“I think anyone in the top 10 is capable of a podium and it is going to come down to not only speed but consistency across the year.”
Paddon is keen to see how a couple of lesser-known drivers go in 2019 and is expecting big things.
“I think two dark horses will be Raana [Horan] in the R5. For the amount of experience he has got he has been doing a phenomenal job and he’s only going to get better.
“Probably even Stephen Barker – I think Stephen is a real dark horse in the Mitsi.”
The season-opening Rally Otago gets underway with a ceremonial opening at the Octagon in central Dunedin on Friday night before two full days of action in and around the city.
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.