He may have missed out on the overall victory but Hayden Paddon still managed to put on a show for the home fans on the final day of the International Rally of Whangarei.
Paddon created history in Argentina with co-driver John Kennard last weekwhen he became the first Kiwi to claim a World Rally Championship round victory.
Back competing on home soil in his Hyundai i20, the 29-year-old led the opening round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship after two short special stages on Friday night, however, his luck deserted him the following day.
Paddon was forced to retire twice with transmission issues but there were no such problems on Sunday as he and Kennard dominated the field to win all six stages on the gravel roads south of Whangarei.
India’s Gaurav Gill and Australian based co-driver Glenn Macneall claimed top honours – completing the 274.9km journey in their Skoda Fabia R5 to win by 30.4 seconds.
Mt Maunganui’s David Holder, meanwhile, secured his maiden victory of the New Zealand Rally Championship.
Driving the Mitsubishi Lancer Paddon took to his first rally victory at Whangarei in 2007, Holder and co-driver Jason Farmer finished ahead of second-placed Emma Gilmour and Anthony McLoughlin with Dylan Turner and Rob Scott third.
“6 out of 6 today and had a lot of fun. Huge congrats to @holdingonrally and Jason Farmer for their first NZRC win,” Paddon tweeted.
Gill, the 2013 APRC champion and 2014 rally winner, was the second car on the road behind overnight leader and teammate Fabian Kreim.
Overtaking the time deficit of 4.6 seconds in the opening test, it was during that stage his car lost turbo boost.
But after fixing the problem during the mid-morning service break, Gill pushed hard in the second run of the earlier used stages to extend his margin.
“After I got my car fixed I knew I had to push a bit to get a comfortable gap over my teammate because anything can happen. So when we got the 30 second lead we eased our pace to come back with the car in one piece, Gill said.
“It is very good to start the year and championship to have this win.”
Third was Kiwi pairing Michael Young and co-driver Malcolm Read in the Cusco-prepared EZY Racing Subaru Impreza.
Young was delighted with the result, particularly after receiving a six-minute penalty on Friday when his car failed to complete the super stage special tests.
“After the disappointment on Friday and to be able to come back and finish on the podium is pretty awesome,” Young said. “I think that the speeds that we showed this weekend have been pretty impressive against the R5 cars so we’ll be looking forward to the next one now.”
Only four of the international contending cars made it to the finish with Japan’s Makoto Kawahara and co-driver Osamu Yoda focussed on just finishing in their Mitsubishi Lancer EVO VIII.
The series now moves to Australia for International Rally of Queensland on June 17-19.