Although the event does not form part of the WRC this season it maintains its tradition as one of the most spectacular rallies on the international calendar.
Piloting a Subaru Impreza similar to the one he uses in the PWRC, Paddon and co-driver John Kennard became the first New Zealanders to win the event in 30 years.
“It’s been a great weekend and it’s pretty cool to know that my name’s going to be engraved on the trophy beside names like Colin McRae,” said Paddon, a double New Zealand rally champion. “He was always one of my heroes, so that makes this a very special victory.”
He continued: “It’s always fantastic to win and it’s a huge credit to our team who have been working really hard with this new car. It is great to see that all our work is taking us in the right direction with this Group N Subaru, which will be a major benefit with the Symtech-built Subaru we run in the PWRC with our next round being in Argentina at the end of this month.”
Paddon started the event, based at the Hampton Downs race circuit south of Auckland, as the favourite and justified that billing by winning six of the opening day’s eight stages. He set two further fastest stage times on Sunday’s final day to win by 2m2.8s over Richard and Sara Mason. Emma Gilmour, co-driven by former factory Subaru navigator Glenn Macneall, finished third to complete a Subaru Impreza podium lockout.
The event, a round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, covered 267 competitive kilometres in the Franklin, North Waikato and Raglan destricts. Classic Rally New Zealand stages such as Whaanga Coast featured on the two-day itinerary.
Jim Donald and Kevin Lancaster were the last New Zealanders to win Rally New Zealand, triumphing in 1981 in a Ford Escort RS.