Fastest across all 18 of the weekend’s special stages at the ENEOS International Rally of Whangarei has rewarded WRC driver Hayden Paddon and co-driver Mal Peden with victory in their Hyundai i20.
The opening round for the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) and the second round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC), the win is Paddon’s fourth – by a margin of 7min26.3sec.
“It’s been an a very good weekend. Everything has gone according to plan and I’ve enjoyed the roads up here. The others have also done a very good job, so the event has been great. I’ve been pretty comfortable with how everything has gone this weekend and it’s paid off,” said a measured Paddon, just before lifting the kauri trophy at the ceremonial finish.
Standing alongside Paddon and Peden on the podium was Auckland’s Ben Hunt and Tony Rawstorn (Subaru) while Australian Rally Champion Nathan Quinn and David Calder (Ford) finished third, a further 1m04.6sec behind Hunt.
“It’s been a fantastic weekend. To get second at Otago and second here in Whangarei is an awesome result for the team and the car – that’s come a long way. I love the roads up here and the way we hop in and out of them is fantastic – so overall it’s been a great event,” commented Hunt.
A total of 29 cars returned to Whangarei for the ceremonial finish at the quayside town basin.
Of the four international entrants only two made to the finish after today’s eight special stages, held south of Whangarei.
Running second to Paddon after the first three of the weekend stages ex-pat Kiwi Mike Young and co-driver Malcolm Read were unable to resume competition for today’s final leg, after retiring on the Saturday with radiator damage in their Toyota Vitz.
Fuyuhiko Takahashi and co-driver Mitsuo Nakamura (Subaru) left the road in the morning’s third test while a mistake in the earlier loop of today’s stages by overnight leader Fabio Frisiero and Simone Scattolin in their Peugeot allowed Yuya Sumiyama and Takahiro Yasui to climb ahead in their Skoda Fabia.
Japan’s Sumiyama finished 11th overall while Italy’s Frisiero finished 15th.
I’m very very happy but very very lucky. The roads have been very fast, and I have liked the weekend. Today I just tried to go faster and I am lucky to win,” said Sumiyama.
Contesting the New Zealand roads for a third time in his career Frisiero said the level of competition was very high: “I’m feeling a lot better this afternoon and I’ve enjoyed it so much. It’s been the best. We tried to catch Sumiyama this afternoon but it was impossible, he was just too fast and congratulations to him for getting the win. It’s also been a surprise for us to even be here, and in this position so I’m extremely happy. The roads have been very slippery and narrow in some places but very fast. You have to know the roads to be able to drive them fast and my compliments go to the NZ drivers who went very fast.”
Celebrating 30 years of APRC competition, the internationals ship their cars to Australia for the series second round: 1 – 3 June. The NZRC series heads back to the South Island for the 3 June running of the Lone Star Canterbury Rally.