Paddon wins Daybreaker rally to continue NZRC lead

Kiwi rally stars Hayden Paddon and John Kennard secured another start-to-finish rally win in a New Zealand Rally Championship event – the Daybreaker Rally – in their Hyundai i20 Rally 2 car to continue leading the championship points-table.

Despite needing to clear heavy gravel on the morning stages and coping with heavy rain during the afternoon, the pair took a relatively comfortable win in the one-day rally run in and around Fielding on 23 September and the fourth round of this year’s Brian Green Property Group NZ Rally Championship.

Paddon and Kennard, from Cromwell and Blenheim respectively, won the rally by more than three minutes from Kiwi Supercars star Shane van Gisbergen who had Australian co-driver Glen Weston alongside.

daybreaker rally

With one NZRC round to go in the Bay of Plenty in October, Paddon now has 118 points with Raana Horan second with 104 points. Also with 118 points, it’s unlikely Kennard can be beaten in the NZRC co-drivers’ championship – this is his sixth NZRC co-drivers’ title. 

It was the first time Paddon had contested the Daybreaker rally in his 16-year career. With extreme weather events earlier this year forcing the planned Hawke’s Bay and Coromandel event off the 2023 NZRC calendar, championship organisers brought back this old favourite for the first time in many years thanks to the work of local rally organisers.

Named for its once-famous midnight starts and challenging competitors with early morning stages and huge days of competition, the 2023 Daybreaker Rally utilised a more familiar schedule which saw 95 crews compete over nine special stages, with Paddon starting the first stage at 6.38am Saturday morning near Taihape and wrapping up the day with three laps around Manfeild race circuit.

“Overall, it’s been a great day at the Daybreaker rally,” said Paddon. “To come away with maximum points for our championship titles is perfect.

“John and I have sort of been in our own rally, leading the field and having to clear a lot of gravel from the roads earlier in the day. Having said that, some of the others behind had dust issues during morning as well.

“We’ve just been trying to keep it clean as it’s challenging to do stages we haven’t driven before with pace notes from a one pass recce. It means you can’t quite commit as you’d normally like to.

“The car’s been working really, really well, and the team’s done an amazing job as usual. All in all, a very successful day and we’re all looking forward to the final round in the Bay of Plenty to hopefully try and bring home the title.”

Paddon and Hyundai New Zealand Rally appreciate the support of Hyundai New Zealand, Mitre 10 Trade, Z Energy, Makita, Open Country, Bars Bugs, Pirelli, OMP/Racer Products, Winmax Brake Pads, South Canterbury Road Safety, Ben Nevis Station, Bailey Caravans, Repco NZ, Highlands Motorsport Park, MITO, ETCO, Jacanna Freight, Pak N’ Save, Machinery House, Bartercard, Mike Greer Homes, Provident Insurance, Zealandia Systems, Carters Tyres and Signbiz.

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