Hayden Paddon’s crushing domination of the New Zealand Rally Championship continues, winning Saturday’s Rally Hawkes Bay to maintain his 100% 2021 record and lift the national title with one round remaining.
Paddon’s latest victory marked his fifth title in his home country.
Splitting his time between developing a ground-breaking Hyundai Kona EV rally car and competing in his i20 AP4, the 2016 Rally Argentina winner still has an eye on unfinished business in the World Rally Championship.
But on Saturday, Paddon emphatically finished the task in hand. Close to a minute quicker than anybody through the opening 18-miler, the Hyundai New Zealand star and co-driver John Kennard continued to extend their advantage, ending the 100 miles of competition with a four-minute win.
That result confirmed crowns for Paddon and Kennard as well as the teams’ cup in New Zealand, but Hyundai New Zealand is still chasing the manufacturers’ crown. That’s a task for the Rally Coromandel finale in September.
“The day went to plan,” said Paddon. “It was good to wrap up the championship titles. A big team effort as always and a relief to tick off our goals.
“We contested this rally back in 2006, 2007 and 2008, so a lot of stages we’ve done before but, to be honest, I didn’t remember them after 12 years. So, it was quite a challenge today [Saturday] with a one-pass recce yesterday.
“We just got on with it, the job. These are quite technical stages with a lot of information to get into the notes which John did well. We enjoyed the fast, flowing public stages using rural roads and some forestry roads.
“The teams’ cup is nice to also secure with Ari Pettigrew and myself under the Paddon Rallysport banner. Ari’s a great young driver. We are still aiming for the manufacturers’ title for Hyundai at Coromandel, so we’re not finished yet.
“We’re keeping the car and truck in the North Island now ahead of Rally Coromandel in six weeks so will prepare for that.”