Pad­don eyes up award for Hyundai

Bay of Plenty Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Colin Smith

An im­por­tant New Zealand Rally Cham­pi­onship prize will be fought over dur­ing the fi­nal round on roads near Raglan this Satur­day.

Hay­den Pad­don has al­ready wrapped up the Gold Star driver’s ti­tle and the WRC star is de­ter­mined to se­cure the Man­u­fac­turer’s award for Hyundai New Zealand, look­ing for a re­sult that will over­haul the Subaru mar­que this week­end.

With 2015 cham­pion Ben Hunt (Auck­land) con­tribut­ing most of the points — along with back-up from Jack Wil­liamson (Raglan) — Subaru leads after five ral­lies with 101 points while Pad­don’s four wins for Hyundai has earned 100 points.

Re­flect­ing the in­creased num­ber of brands now com­pet­i­tive un­der the AP4 rally car reg­u­la­tions, it’s a close top-five with Mit­subishi next on 95 while Holden and Ford are tied with 94 points.

But one ti­tle be­yond the reach of the Hyundai squad is the co­driver’s award be­cause John Ken­nard and Mal­colm Pe­den have two wins apiece while shar­ing du­ties for Pad­don.

Nel­son’s Tony Raw­storn — who calls the pace notes for Ben Hunt — leads the standings on 107 points from Gore’s An­drew Graves (co-driver for Josh Marston) on 85. Christchurch’s David Calder (part­ner­ing Aus­tralian champ Nathan Quinn) has 84 points and Ran­giora’s Nicole Summerfield has guided her brother Matt and scored 83 points.

Raglan will also be the de­cider for the Rally Chal­lenge cat­e­gory where Hawke’s Bay driver Grant Black­berry (Mit­subishi) leads with 88 points from Feild­ing-based for­mer na­tional cham­pion Geof Ar­gyle (Mit­subishi) on 80 and Ka­iapoi’s Mar­cus van Klink (Mazda RX-8) with 72 points.

Satur­day’s Hyundai Raglan Rally of the Coast has at­tracted a 73-strong en­try that in­cludes Pad­don — who has jet­ted home from WRC Wales Rally GB last week­end — 2017 cham­pion An­drew Hawkeswood (Mazda2 AP4) and cur­rent sec­ond place holder Ben Hunt (Subaru).

Aus­tralian cham­pion Nathan Quinn — who hadn’t no­ti­fied which car he’d be driv­ing when the draft en­try list was pub­lished — is con­tin­u­ing his Kiwi cam­paign.

The Holden Ba­rina AP4 duo of Josh Marston and Greg Mur­phy, Audi S1 AP4 driver Dy­lan Turner, the new Ford Fi­esta AP4 of Phil Camp­bell, Mit­subishi Mi­rage AP4 driver Matt Summerfield and Dunedin’s Emma Gil­mour (Suzuki Swift Maxi) are other po­ten­tial front run­ners.

There’s also po­ten­tial for a trio of FIA R5 cars to take the start in Raglan.

Three-time cham­pion Neil All­port (Auck­land) will be at the wheel of his Ford Fi­esta R5 for the first time in com­pe­ti­tion and Raana Ho­ran (Auck­land) will make his Ben Hunt’s ef­forts have put Subaru into a nar­row lead in the Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ Cham­pi­onship and nav­i­ga­tor Tony Raw­storn leads the Co-Driver standings. Fast Aus­tralian driver Bren­dan Reeves makes an­other NZ Rally Cham­pi­onship ap­pear­ance this week­end in the Force Mo­tor­sport Mazda2 AP4. third start in his Skoda Fabia R5. Auck­land’s Kings­ley Jones is hope­ful his new Skoda R5 — a Hay­den Pad­don will be look­ing to make it five wins from five starts in his 2018 New Zealand Rally Cham­pi­onship cam­paign on the Raglan roads this week­end. sis­ter car to Ho­ran’s pre­vi­ously cam­paigned by the MRF Tyres team — will ar­rive and have its pa­per­work com­pleted in time to make the start.

The 171.8km itin­er­ary of eight gravel spe­cial stages is on roads well known for WRC ac­tion in past years with the Raglan air­field pro­vid­ing the start lo­ca­tion at 7.30am and the ser­vice park.

The loop of two stages north of Raglan have new names but tra­verse a fa­mil­iar route. Kauri Flat (21.52km) uses most of the stage tra­di­tion­ally known as Te Akau South and is fol­lowed by the Matira (23.43km) stage which uses about three-quar­ters of the loop known as Te Akau North.

In the af­ter­noon the rally re­mains closer to Raglan mak­ing two loops through the Te Hute­wai (11.52km) and the Whaanga Coast (29.77km) stages.

The rally will make vis­its to the ser­vice park at 10.31am, 1.52pm and 3.40pm with the win­ning crew sched­uled for Raglan air­field fin­ish line cel­e­bra­tions at 5.48pm.

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