Paddon returns to begin pursuit of Otago stars

Seven-time national champion Hayden Paddon returns for the second round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship held in South Canterbury on May 11.

Paddon, who grew up in nearby Geraldine, missed the season opening round in Otago earlier this month due to a clash with his European Rally Championship commitments but is a confirmed starter for the Timaru-based event after entries were closed.

His absence saw the likes of Jack Hawkeswood (Force Motorsport Toyota GR Yaris AP4), Robbie Stokes (Stokes Motorsport Ford Fiesta AP4) and Ben Hunt (Skoda New Zealand Fabia Rally 2) get a significant head-start in the pursuit of the 2024 title.

Paddon will pilot his Hyundai New Zealand i20 Rally 2 car on roads he knows well.

Emma Gilmour (Vantage NZ Citroen C3) will look to bounce back after an early mistake hampered her chances on her home event at Otago.

Youngster Zeal Jones (Smith & Sons Skoda Fabia R5), Australian Stewart Reid (SR Automotive Mitsubishi Mirage AP4), Andy Martin (Carbonworks Forestry Volkswagen Polo Rally 2) and New Caledonia’s Eugene Creugnet (Mitsubishi Mirage AP4) complete a quality NZRC 4WD field.

Reigning class champion Dylan Thomson (Ford Fiesta Rally 4) headlines the NZRC 2WD field but will be chased hard by the likes of Bryn Jones (Ford Fiesta Rally 4), Jack Stokes (Ford Fiesta R2), Tim Mackersy (Ford Fiesta) and James Worker (Ford Fiesta R2).

Veteran driver Dave Strong will be out to claim maximum points in his Honda Jazz in the Open 2WD class after an engine failure at Otago. William Hawes took victory down south and will provide strong opposition at South Canterbury.

Paul Fraser (Ford Escort) and Mike Cameron (Mitsubishi Lancer) will continue their battle in the Historic 2WD class after finishing first and second respectively at Otago.

Dave Sievers (Subaru Impreza) makes his first appearance of the season in a 11-strong Rally Challenge 4WD class that is dripping with talent.

Round one winner Andrew Graves (Mitsubishi EVO 3) Mark McMillan (Subaru Impreza), Carter Strang (Mitsubishi EVO 10), Caleb Macdonald (Mitsubishi EVO 6) and Gavin Feast (Subaru Impreza) all impressed at Otago while the likes of Brian Green (Mitsubishi EVO 9), James Macdonald (Subaru Impreza), Jay Pittams (Subaru Impreza), Paul Cross (Subaru Impreza) and Amy Keighley (Subaru Impreza) will also feature in the battle.

Timaru local Darren Galbraith makes a welcome return to the championship in the Rally Challenge 2WD class in his Ford Fiesta and should start as favourite on roads he knows well.

Pushing him hard will be his former co-driver James Bracefield (Mazda RX7), defending series champion Jared Parker (Toyota Corolla) and Pat Norris (Toyota Yaris).

The rally begins on Friday May 10 with a ceremonial opening in Timaru before a full day of action on fast South Canterbury gravel roads and a finale around Levels Raceway in the afternoon.


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