Paddon wins South Canterbury Rally before return to Europe
Hayden Paddon, with brand-new co-driver Jaren Hudson alongside, has won the one-day South Canterbury Rally to maintain his lead in the New Zealand Rally Championship before he departs for four events in Europe over the next two months.
Paddon and Hudson, from Cromwell and Christchurch respectively, dominated the field as they contested nine special stages and 148 competitive kilometres of Rally South Canterbury which headed south for stages around Waimate in the morning, then north of Timaru in the afternoon before wrapping up at Levels Raceway.
With nine stage wins and maximum NZRC points in the bank to count towards missing the next NZRC round in Hawke’s Bay, Paddon’s final winning margin was four minutes, 20.1 seconds over former NZRC champion Ben Hunt in second place.
Paddon paid credit to his Hyundai New Zealand Rally team who got the Hyundai i20 AP4 car successfully to the finish, despite a small overheating issue which they managed throughout the day.
Paddon was also impressed with Hudson’s performance in the co-driver’s seat. The team had planned a test last weekend where Hudson was to have joined Paddon, but this had to be cancelled due to snow around Central Otago. This made Hudson’s performance even more significant with Paddon commenting on Hudson’s growing confidence as the day progressed.
Having done all he could with his 2022 NZRC campaign, Paddon now heads to Europe where he’ll meet up with regular co-driver John Kennard to compete in a Tour European Rally (TER) event, Rally di Alba in Italy, on 24 and 25 June. The pair will be in a Hyundai i20 R5 car run by Hyundai Motorsport Italy (HMI) for what will be Paddon’s first tarmac rally in five years.
With no expectations, Paddon says this first rally back in Europe is about enjoying himself and making the most of the seat time.
Some of the Hyundai New Zealand Rally team join Paddon and Kennard in Europe soon after Rally di Alba as they prepare for the Latvian ERC event, Rally Leipaja running 1-3 July, in the Hyundai i20 Rally2 car. The Kiwi engineers and technicians will take a major role in learning and running the car for Paddon. Various team members rotate between New Zealand and Europe as they head onto the first WRC2 event in Estonia, 14-17 July, then Finland for another WRC2 round, 4-7 August. The next event will be Rally New Zealand running 29 September – 2 October where they’ll look to wrap up their NZRC title.
“Everything went reasonably well in South Canterbury. The stages were really fast, a couple faster than we’d normally expect there, mixed in with some traditional stages. We were managing a bit of a problem with the car overheating, but we were able to get to the end for the win which was our goal. The team did a great job, as always.
“The fast roads around Timaru offered some important preparation for the events in Latvia, Estonia and Finland because those three are all fast gravel rallies. They flow into one another quite nicely, so it’s been good to get into that mindset this weekend.
“Jared did an amazing job, especially being thrown in the deep end after our planned test last weekend was snowed out. He did a phenomenal job, growing with confidence as the day progressed. Better than I expected actually, given the circumstances, so I was very impressed with the job he did.”
Looking ahead to Rally di Alba, Paddon says: “We’re going there for mileage with no expectations; it’s just a way to kickstart our European campaign. I also have a role as ambassador for the TER championship so competing in this rally allows us time in the seat, to go and enjoy ourselves. I drove an R5 back in 2017 at San Remo and haven’t done a tarmac rally in five years so have no idea where we are in relation to the rest of the field.
“I’m certainly excited to be heading to Europe this coming week. The whole team is excited, to be honest, as there’s been a ton of work to get us back to the other side of the world. I can’t wait to get into it.”
Paddon and Hyundai New Zealand Rally appreciate the support of Hyundai New Zealand, Mitre 10 Trade, Z Energy, Makita, Bailey Caravans, Ben Nevis Station, Winmax Brakes, Gravity Internet, Pak N’ Save, Bars Bugs, Pirelli, OMP/Racer Products, Mike Greer Homes, Bartercard, Accessman, Sign It Signs, Carters Tyre Service, ETCO and Provident Insurance.
Keep up with news on Hayden Paddon and the Hyundai New Zealand Rally team via the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/paddonrallysport.