Hayden Paddon finally collected his WRC Gala Awards honour in front of his home Kiwi supporters in Auckland on Friday night.
The Hyundai driver topped a fans poll on wrc.com to win the Certina Timing Award after hurling his i20 down the El Condor mountain to outpace Sébastien Ogier in YPF Rally Argentina’s Power Stage and secure his maiden victory.
A team passenger ride event near Coffs Harbour meant he and co-driver John Kennard were unable to make it to Sydney in time to collect the trophy at the glamorous end-of-season black tie event at the Museum of Contemporary Art last Monday.
That was put right when WRC Promoter managing director Oliver Ciesla presented the award during New Zealand’s Legend of Speed dinner in front of Prime Minister John Key and the who’s who of the country’s motorsport industry at the Vector Arena.
Top Kiwi drivers including four-time IndyCar title holder Scott Dixon, 2015 World Endurance Car champion Brendon Hartley, 2015 Le Mans 24 hours winner Earl Bamber and multi-V8 Supercars race winner Shane van Gisbergen were among the 700 guests.
The evening celebrated the successes of both past and present drivers and was presented by the Giltrap Group and organised by Peter Johnston.
It raised money for the Elite New Zealand Academy of Motorsport training programme and the campaign to restore Rally New Zealand to the FIA World Rally Championship.