Fri 30 Sep 2022

Perfect Paddon dominates WRC2 on Friday

Hayden Paddon’s international experience coupled with his local knowledge helped the Kiwi favourite surge to a lead of over a minute in WRC2 at Repco Rally New Zealand.

The Hyundai driver maintained a blistering pace in varying conditions to the south of Auckland on Friday, picking up four stage wins in his i20 N Rally2 to go with his super special stage victory on Thursday evening at Auckland’s Pukekawa domain.

“All in all a good day, we are not taking risks and we still had to work for it today because conditions are pretty tough,” opined Paddon at the day’s completion.

The only other driver to record stage wins was Kajetan Kajetanowicz, who claimed two aboard a Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo. The WRC2 regular struggled to find a rhythm on his maiden New Zealand outing but still managed to finish the day in second overall, albeit 1min 1.5sec down on Paddon.

A further 35.5sec back was relative newcomer to rallying, Shane van Gisbergen. The two-time Supercars Champion and current 2022 Supercars leader was taking on his first full day of WRC action, with a spin on the final stage of the morning his only glitch in an otherwise impressive day. “Whaanga Coast was the most fun I’ve ever had in a race car,” claimed the buzzing Škoda driver.

Another New Zealander Ben Hunt moved into fourth position on the day’s penultimate stage at the expense of Australian champion Harry Bates, who dropped time when the rear right tyre came off his Fabia’s rim.

But Hunt’s move up the leaderboard was short-lived as his Fabia clipped a rock on a high-speed left-hander 8.8km into the day’s final stage, putting him into an out-of-control spin which ended in a fence. That allowed Bates to move back into fourth ahead of WRC2 Masters leader Armin Kremer, who completed the top-five in a Citroën C3 Rally2.

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