Paddon, SVG return for iconic Daybreaker Rally

The Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship roars back to life this week after a three-month hiatus as the best rally drivers in the country tackle the iconic Daybreaker Rally.

Based out of Feilding in the Manawatu and using roads made famous by an event that is steeped in folklore, the Daybreaker Rally will serve as round four of the 2023 championship.

Named for its once-famous midnight starts and challenging competitors with early morning stages and huge days of competition, the 2023 edition will resort to a more familiar schedule with teams competing over nine special stages, with the first to begin at 6.38am on Saturday morning.

With a pair of morning services at Taihape and an early afternoon service at Kimbolton, fans will get a chance to see some of the premier drivers in world motorsport up close.

The rally finishes with a final blast around the Manfeild Race Track.

WRC rally winner Hayden Paddon (Hyundai NZ i20 Rally 2) will headline the field while Supercars star Shane van Gisbergen (Giltrap/LJ Hooker Audi AP4) will be a popular addition for what is his second event of the season.

Paddon can secure the title if he were to score heavily, and his title rivals have problems – the likes of Raana Horan (Generator Rental Services Skoda Rally 2) and Ben Hunt (Skoda NZ Rally 2) will hope to extend the fight with Paddon to the season-ending event in the Bay of Plenty next month with a strong performance this weekend.

The 2WD battle looks to be fierce once again with local driver Jackson Clendon (Ford Fiesta) hoping to get one better on NZRC 2WD title leader Dylan Thomson (Ford Fiesta). Jordan Grant (Suzuki Swift), Bryn Jones (Ford Fiesta) and Charlie Evans (Honda Civic) should keep the leading pair honest.

Australian-based Irishman Glenn Alcorn (Ford Escort), defending champ Daniel Haines (Ford Escort) and veteran Dave Strong (Honda Jazz) will enjoy a three-way battle in the Open 2WD class.

In the Historic 2WD class, championship rivals John Silcock (Mazda RX7) and Stewart Reid (Mazda RX7) will continue their battle but will be joined in class by former champion Anthony Jones (Ford Escort).

The season-long Rally Challenge 4WD battle between defending champion Jeff Ward and youngster Zeal Jones will continue – both in Subarus – will be one to watch but they will be joined by the very fast Dave Sievers (Subaru) and Hawke’s Bay local Grant Blackberry (Mitsubishi), while Kingsley Jones has swapped his Skoda for a Mitsubishi and will be out for victory in the class.

A six-strong field in the Rally Challenge 2WD class makes it easily the most competitive round with Dan Alexander (Toyota Starlet), Jono Shapley (Toyota Vitz), Sam Byrne (Mitsubishi Lancer), Brett Maddren (Toyota Starlet), Clint Clunie (Toyota Starlet) and Jared Parker (Toyota Corolla) set to face off.

The event begins with a ceremonial opening in downtown Feilding on Friday night.


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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