Paddon Wins Rally Wairarapa
5 October 2013
Paddon Wins Rally Wairarapa
As predicted, history was made at the Trusthouse Racetech Rally Wairarapa. In a winner takes all finale to the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, it was Hayden Paddon who steered clear of trouble to take both the rally win and the national title off defending champion Richard Mason.
With most of the front running drivers wary of the heavy gravel on some stages, the jockeying to avoid running first on the road meant that Paddon was left to act as the grader. However it was to be a lack of wind and the resulting dust hanging in the air that proved to be the bigger issue.
This allowed Paddon to skip away to an early lead as he took full advantage of the road conditions in the first two stages. His mission was also helped when Mason spun on the first corner, putting him 6 seconds down straight away.
In the meantime Geof Argyle had taken full advantage of his road position, being outside of the national championship classes running at the front of the field. Meaning that by the first service halt it was Paddon with a 0.9 second lead over Argyle, with Ben Hunt in third and Mason back in fourth.
On into stage 4 and a special tribute was paid to local driver and motorsport identity Roger Brader. With failing health, Roger made it to the spectator point in this stage to watch as all the drivers gave him a toot on the horn as they sped past. Making for a very special gesture all round.
This next group of stages saw Mason back on the case as he took two stage wins in his chase of Paddon. The effect being that Mason jumped from fourth to second, but with little impact on the time differential.
Chris West was also on the improve through the day, where he had now worked his way from sixth to third, overtaking Ben Hunt in the process. However the day wasn’t going to end well for Hunt, breaking his car on the penultimate stage.
And so with only the short stage 9 to go, the die was cast. Four past national champions headed the field home as Paddon cruised through to win by 13.2 seconds over a disappointed Mason. West retained third, almost a minute behind Mason, but 21.5 seconds ahead of Argyle. Rounding out the top 5 was the young Lance Williams, who had one of his best results, including an outright stage win against the headlining pack in front.
In Class E, for the older 4 wheel drive cars, it was a clear win to Daniel Alexander, over Marty Smith. Their likely competition didn’t have a good day when Chuck Newton went off the road in stage one and Gareth McLachlan retired early with brake problems.
The battle for the fastest 2 wheel drive was an eclectic mix, as Tony McConachy in the home built Hyabusa Starlet battled hard with Josh Marston in the production based R2 Ford Fiesta. With less than 5 seconds separating them all day it was in stage 7 that McConachy made his move and snaffled the lead. But Marston wasn’t about to give up and a last ditch run on the last stage saw him gab the lead back to win Class B by 0.8 of a second.
The expected challenge from Phil Campbell came unstuck from the start, when a spin and then a puncture let Marston off the hook from what had been an exceptionally tight fight through the season for the Group N two wheel drive championship.
In Class C, The Ford Fiesta mounted David Holder recovered from a bit of a slow start to lead home Craig Stevens in his older Escort, while Dave Strong rounded out the top three as he used his Civic Type R on this event.
As expected the front three runners in the Malcolm Stewart Classic Rally consisted of the south island trio of Deane Buist, Marcus van Klink and Jeff Judd. They had not only the rally title up for grabs, but who ever won here would also take out the NZ Historic Rally Challenge championship, and the Classic Challenge Trophy.
In the end it was a dominant flag to flag win by Buist, as he lead every stage. However there were a few nervous moments for him as van Klink found a special stage just to his liking. Stage 4 was recycled as Stage 6, and consists of extended tarmac sections. van Klink liked this so much that he proceeded to set a 2 wheel drive stage record on the first run through, and then lowered it again on the second. This brought him from 19 seconds down, to be just 1.3 seconds off Buist by the end of stage 6.
However it was van Klink who succumbed to the pressure, finding the ditch on the outside of a spectator junction in stage 7, it took the combined efforts of all over 6 minutes to free the stranded RX7. A result that saw van Klink drop to 6th.
And then the classic rally became a Ford Escort benefit match, as Buist continued to power away to an eventual 1min 45sec win over Judd. Follow south islander Tony Gosling took to the podium in third, 1min 36sec behind Judd, but 2min 24sec ahead of Ron Davey, in yet another Escort in fourth.
After a fabulous day in the sun, the Trusthouse Racetech Rally Wairarapa has again proved to be an exciting and hard fought event. The flowing county roads bringing out the best in the drivers, and making it a sprint to not only the rally title, but also the national championship titles as well.
The organising committee want to thank all involved, and especially the local communities of the Wairarapa, Carterton and Tararua districts, for helping to make this one of the best events on the motorsport calendar.
Full results are available on www.chrissport.co.nz