Paddon’s Otago absence throws open 2024 NZRC

Ben Hunt will headline a wide open field in 2024. Photo / Geoff Ridder

The most open field in recent history will contest the opening round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship but the big omission is seven-time national champion Hayden Paddon.

Paddon’s name was a glaring absence from the official entry list confirmed on Monday, throwing the 2024 championship wide open.

By missing the two-day opening round with bonus points awarded, Paddon opens the door for a host of contenders to chase the 2024 Gold Star Championship.

The expectation is he will be at the other five rounds of the championship but will face his biggest challenge on a national level in a long time by missing the season opener.

Ben Hunt (Skoda Fabia Rally 2) headlines the list of local drivers, that includes Robbie Stokes (Ford Fiesta AP4), local Dunedin star Emma Gilmour (Citroen C3), Todd Bawden (Ford Fiesta Rally 2), Jack Hawkeswood (Toyota GR Yaris), Mike Young (Toyota Yaris AP4), Zeal Jones (Skoda Fabia Rally 2), Australian Stewart Reid (Mitsubishi Mirage AP4), Andy Martin (Volkswagen Polo), and Eugene Creugnet (Mitsubishi Mirage AP4).

A total of 34 national championship entries have been received for the series opener.

A total of 14 competitors will battle it out in easily the most open and most competitive Rally Challenge 4WD class in history.

Two entries are confirmed in the Historic 2WD class for Otago while three competitors will battle out the Open 2WD class.

There are five entries at Otago in the NZRC 2WD class, which proved very competitive in 2023 and looms to be equally as tough this year.

There are three entries in the Rally Challenge 2WD class that went down to the wire last season.

The Otago Rally runs April 13-14 on famously fast Otago roads.


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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