Paddon dominates International Rally of Whangarei
Hayden Paddon solidified his reputation as a driver moving up in the Rally world last weekend by winning the NAC Insurance International Rally of Whangarei by 1min:01.6sec over Cody Crocker.
Not only did Geraldine’s Paddon and his co-driver John Kennard eclipse Australia’s Crocker, who is leading the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), he qualified for the Pirelli Star Driver competition and is now leading the Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC).
“The NZ championship aside, the Pirelli scholarship is the biggest thing we have been concentrating on. It’s a weight off my shoulders knowing I have qualified. Now we will be working hard towards Rally Australia in September to boost our chance of winning a drive in six World Rally Championship events next year.”
Paddon also added the Pacific Cup to his CV, collecting the international championship after his results at the APRC rallies in Queensland and New Caledonia.
Whangarei was his first international victory in 2007 – where he ran with the rest of the NZRC behind the APRC drivers – but come 2009 and he has truly shown his driving maturity.
“This year we really proved we were able to play in the same court as the top international drivers as we were running third on the thickly-graveled roads on Saturday and first today.”
Battling with tougher conditions than those running behind him, Paddon still managed to win four over the weekend.
“It’s a really great result for the whole team and a credit to them that we had a problem-free weekend. We are on a bit of a roll now after our win at the Otago Rally last month and we hope to carry this success on for the rest of our season.”
Paddon leaves the North Island with a maximum points haul in the Rally New Zealand International scholarship, which offers him $50,000 towards competing next year.
Back down south, Team Green will busy rebuilding the Mitsubishi Evo 9 and testing it in preparation for Rally Wairarapa (July 18-19), which will be its shakedown for Rally Australia (September 2-6).
Hayden’s 2009 rally programme comprises the following events: Vantage New Zealand Rally Championship – Rally of Hawke’s Bay, 4-5 April; Rally of Otago, 16-17 May; Rally of Whangarei, 6-7 June; Rally Wairarapa, 18-19 July; Rally of Nelson, 19-20 September.
FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship: Rally New Caledonia April 10-12, Rally Queensland (Australia), 9-10 May; Rally Whangarei (New Zealand), 6-7.
FIA World Rally Championship – Rally Australia September 2-6.