Paddon takes control as SVG, Pettigrew falter
Hayden Paddon has dominated the opening day of the International Rally of Whangarei to take a commanding lead overnight in the second round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship.
Paddon leads two-time national champion Ben Hunt by just over two minutes in his Hyundai New Zealand i20 Rally2 car.
Hunt was sharp throughout the day to hold a comfortable second place in his Skoda New Zealand Fabia Rally2.
Raana Horan (Generator Rental Services Skoda Fabia Rally2) was third overnight with Josh Marston (RDL Holden Barina AP4) fourth, Todd Bawden (Online Contractors Ford Fiesta Rally2) fifth and Clint Cunningham (Skoda Fabia R5) in an impressive sixth.
Supercars star Shane van Gisbergen didn’t make it to the start of the opening stage after an electrical drama in his LJ Hooker/Giltrap Audi S1 AP4. He was able to re-start the event with the short two-passes through the Pohe Island Super Special stage in downtown Whangarei.
Robbie Stokes (Team Hutchinson Ford Fiesta AP4) had an engine issue that saw him fail to complete the opening stage, while runner-up from the opening round in Otago Ari Pettigrew (Manukau Auto Centre Holden Barina AP4) rolled on stage four.
Youngster Zeal Jones produced arguably the performance of the day to win the Rally Challenge one-day event in his Subaru Impreza, holding off defending champion Jeff Ward (Subaru WRX).
Dylan Thomson held a narrow lead of four seconds over Jackson Clendon in the NZRC 2WD battle. Thomson was debuting his new Ford Fiesta Rally4 car at the event and the pair traded stage times all day in a battle between identical cars.
Australian-based Irishman Glenn Alcorn came out on top of the Open 2WD after day 1 to lead Daniel Haines by over a minute – both in Ford Escorts.
Stewart Reid took advantage of defending historic champion John Silcock’s mechanical dramas to hold a 30 second lead in the Mazda RX7 battle in the Historic 2WD class.
Another six special stages await competitors on Sunday.