Shane van Gisbergen continued his foray into racing in other motorsport disciplines when he competed in the latest round of the New Zealand Rally Championship and together with Glen Weston, finished second.
Against the elements on the heavily gravelled roads of the Manawatu and Rangitikei districts, Hayden Paddon and John Kennard were the winners of the Daybreaker Rally. They completed the nine stages 3:08.9 ahead of the Triple Eight Supercar driver with Raana Horan and Dave Neill taking the final podium position in their Skoda Fabia R5.
Departing Feilding on the North Island just as day broke, the 88-car field headed for the first stages. Paddon in his Hyundai i20N Rally 2 and van Gisbergen aboard a loaned Audi S1 AP4 maintained the same positions for the entire day.
The event travelled through sunny warm and dusty sections around Taihape and the northern part of the route. But by early afternoon the forecast rain arrived which changed the road conditions. The challenge over-stretched the ability of some, and mechanical issues plagued others. Sixty made it to the finish ramp after the Central ITM Super Stage at Manfeild was held in atrocious wet conditions.
“It was tough in the morning learning the roads and in the dust. Then with the rain in the afternoon it was slop in the end – it was difficult but so much fun,” said van Gisbergen, who set the second fastest times on every stage.
“Hayden was really quick at the start and managed the lead well. I felt I got better throughout the day and hopefully I don't feel as rusty when I next get into the car in a month's time.”
Paddon extended his lead in the five-round championship with the win. “The roads are very unique to the rest of the country – very twisty and a lot more technical than I expected.
“It was one of the twister rallies we've done for a while. So having full trust in the pace notes we've never checked was interesting, but they worked and John did an awesome job.”
Horan's third place finish keeps the NZRC title chase alive. He is 14 points behind Paddon and still has a mathematical chance of being champion. Fastest in 2WD were Rangiora's Marcus van Klink and Toby Marsh, 11th overall in Mazda RX8.