Wed, 11 Sep 2019 - MotorSport NZ supports Hawkeswood’s Chinese APRC finale bid

New Zealand rally driver Andrew Hawkeswood is heading to the final round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship in China this October with support from MotorSport New Zealand.

In March, MotorSport New Zealand released details of a $5,000 grant for one New Zealand competitor who qualified for October’s APRC final in China.

Auckland-based Hawkeswood qualified for the APRC final by gaining points in the first two qualifying rounds which were run in New Zealand. The Otago Rally was an APRC round for the first time, while the International Rally of Whangarei has been the New Zealand APRC round since 2007. This year, the APRC included rounds in Australia, Japan, Indonesia, and also China’s finale.

In a significant change from most rally championships where competitors earn championship points based on their finishing positions in all rounds of the championship, this year, the APRC championship titles are being decided in China. The reasoning behind the change was so that competitors didn’t need to travel to several countries to compete for the championship title. So Hawkeswood and co-driver Jeff Cress could potentially come home as New Zealand’s next APRC champions.

Hawkeswood will contest Rally China, based in Longyou, 400km south-west of Shanghai, with his Mazda 2 AP4 he used to finish fifth at Rally Otago earlier this year.

“It’s the first time I’ve actually competed in China, but I’ve travelled over for rallies there since 1998 helping other competitors, either running one of my cars or their own,” says Hawkeswood.

“It’s also going to be my last major rally. I’m just too busy with other projects and while I might do a few club rallysprints and the like, I’m stepping down from major competition."

Hawkeswood says the grant from MotorSport New Zealand was one of the incentives to confirm his entry. “My son Jack, who’s 18, also qualified for the final in China, so we were already taking Jack’s car. The freight costs weren’t significantly higher to take two cars, rather than one, so the MotorSport New Zealand grant helped me make the decision to go. I also want to support the Asia Pacific Rally Championship so to have two New Zealanders there will be important.”

Looking at online footage of previous events in the Longyou region, Hawkeswood says he thinks it’s going to be a rally of attrition. “The roads are part concrete, part gravel where you have to watch the edges which can have sharp drop-offs that could rip a wheel off. And with this year’s regulations meaning that the championship itself comes down to just this one event, if I can get to the end, who knows, I might be the champion…or Jack might become the youngest champion!”

MotorSport New Zealand President Wayne Christie says: “This year, the APRC working group made significant efforts to reinvigorate the championship, so as motorsport’s governing body in New Zealand, MotorSport NZ also wanted to support a New Zealand competitor who wanted to contest the 2019 final in China.

“We wish Andrew and Jeff all the very best, and best of luck also to our young Kiwi pairing of Jack Hawkeswood and Alex Parkin for their first event in China.”

A third New Zealander, Mike Young will also contest Rally China. Young has established a solid rally career in the Asia Pacific region and will compete in the 220km Longyou event in a Cusco Toyota.

New Zealander Hayden Paddon won the FIA APRC Pacific Rally Cup recently. This title went to the competitor who earned the most points in the four Pacific rounds – the two New Zealand rallies and two in Australia. With maximum points from his success in his Hyundai i20 AP4 car in Otago and Whangarei, Paddon then leased a Hyundai i20 R5 car in Australia to contest August’s Eureka Rally run in Victoria, just north of Melbourne. It’s a title Paddon also won ten years ago at the International Rally of Whangarei.

The FIA APRC has been in existence for more than 30 years and past winners include New Zealand greats Possum Bourne and Rod Millen, along with multiple World Rally Champion Carlos Sainz, and more recently, current WRC competitor Pontus Tidemand from Sweden. Visit for full details and for the competitors who have qualified for the final in China.

Sat, 7 Sep 2019 - PADDON RETURNS

Hayden Paddon and John Kennard are set to contest two FIA World Rally Championship events before the end of the year – piloting the all-new Ford Fiesta R5 MkII at Wales Rally GB and returning to the wheel of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC at Rally Australia.

As one of the sport’s most popular competitors, the rallying community were devastated when a stray rock put paid to Paddon’s Rally Finland ambitions earlier this year. But the New Zealander did not give up the fight and worked tirelessly with his backers to facilitate another outing at the sport’s highest level – his efforts rewarded with a further two events.

Chasing success in the WRC 2 Pro category, Paddon’s Wales Rally GB outing will act as the perfect means to get back into the swing of the FIA World Rally Championship, whilst also showcasing the power and performance of M-Sport’s latest challenger.

Having contested the British event on nine previous occasions, Paddon knows the Welsh forests well – twice finishing on the support-category podium and securing his best result of fourth overall at the end of a strong and consistent 2016 season.

As a talented competitor on all surfaces, Paddon has eight top-three finishes to his name – securing his first podium in 2015 and claiming a maiden victory with an unforgettable performance at the 2016 edition of Rally Argentina.

And there’s no doubt he’ll be looking to add to those accolades when he returns to the wheel of the EcoBoost-powered Ford Fiesta WRC at the season finale in Australia.

Contesting the Australian fixture on eight previous occasions, it’s a rally he and Kennard know equally well and they have the results to prove it – with four top-five finishes in the past four years which include two podiums as well as the runner-up spot last year.

Team Principal, Richard Millener, said:

“After what happened in the lead-up to Finland, it was clear that a lot of the fans were desperate to see Hayden back behind the wheel. We gave him some thoughts and advice on what was needed to compete with us again, and within three weeks he was pretty much there!

“The backing and budget he was able to secure has allowed us to offer him two events – one with the Ford Fiesta R5 at Wales Rally GB, and another with the Ford Fiesta WRC at Rally Australia.

“The WRC 2 Pro series is extremely competitive at the moment so it’s great to add another top-line driver into the mix. With Hayden’s experience of all different kinds of cars we’re sure he’ll be able to show the capabilities of the new Fiesta R5.

“As for Rally Australia I think it’s clear what he aims to do there, and it will be great to see him back battling the WRC regulars. He and John certainly have the potential to deliver two really strong performances, and I’m one of many who are excited to see what they can do.”

Hayden Paddon said:

“We are really excited to get back behind the wheel. After the disappointment of Finland there was no way we could let that be the end of it and, together with M-Sport, we have worked hard to find some solutions. I really can’t thank everyone enough for their continued help and support; and a special thanks to HNZ who have again allowed this opportunity to happen.

“I’m really looking forward to driving M-Sport’s new R5 on an event we are familiar with and will aim to showcase its capabilities. It’s also good to get more seat time which, combined with testing both the R5 and the WRC, is something we have been lacking this year. But getting back in the world rally car at Rally Australia will be the real highlight, and I can’t wait.

“We’re not treating these rallies as a ‘last chance.’ We want to relax and enjoy the whole experience which will allow the results to come naturally. These are both rallies we know well and I feel I’m at a good level. There’s no reason we can’t deliver some strong results, but it’s important we don’t go chasing them – just let them come naturally.”

Thu, 22 Aug 2019 - Thomson secures junior title at Coromandel

Christchurch’s Dylan Thomson has secured his third consecutive junior championship and tightened his strangle-hold on third place in the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship after another top five result at the Dayle ITM Goldrush Rally Coromandel.

Thomson headed to the event looking to secure his championship position and also look to learn the effect of set-up changes and a new Dunlop tyre on the Specialised Auto Services Subaru Impreza STI.

The opening loop of stages saw Thomson and co-driver Amy Hudson make a strong start, putting themselves fifth as they returned to the service park after the opening three special stages.

Bolting on a set of the new generation Dunlop tyres for the first time, Thomson immediately felt a difference and a third fastest time on special stage five saw him move up to fourth place as he entered the final loop of three stages again.

The final loop of stages saw good pace, with a third and fourth fastest time on the two remaining gravel stages, but a turbo gasket failure on the final tarmac publicity stage saw him drop to fifth place by just .8 of a second, but still securing his third top five finish in what is still his first season in a four-wheel drive car.

“Every rally this year we’ve got closer to the pace of the leaders which is really pleasing on what we always said was going to be a learning year. This is an event I’ve always loved and it’s really satisfying to get another strong result, albeit a little frustrating we weren’t on the winning end of such a tight result,” said Thomson. “The other pleasing thing is the new Dunlop, the old tyre was pretty awesome but this new tyre is something else again!”

Thomson heads to the final round 21 points ahead of fourth place in the championship, but will have a large battle on his hands with Hudson only holding a six-point margin for third in the co-drivers title race heading to the season finale, the Handy Rentals Waitomo

Dylan Thomson Rallysport’s campaign is supported by Total Lubricants, Riordan and West Transport Pukekohe, Drew + Accounting, Harrier Signs, Specialised Auto Services, Steelrite Framing, LJ Hooker, Fowler Homes South Auckland and New Zealand, AA Autocentre Hornby, Jivan Produce, Dunlop, Dixcel and Braketech.

Wed, 21 Aug 2019 - Sheehan takes championship control at Coromandel

Queenstown’s Mike Sheehan has one hand on the championship trophy in the front-wheel drive class of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship after a maximum score at the Dayle ITM Goldrush Rally Coromandel held over the weekend.

Having seen his lead reduced to nothing at the previous rounds, Sheehan knew he needed to increase his pace and made improvements to both the Truck Moves Ford Fiesta R2 as well as his driving with training from mentor David Holder.

Sheehan and co-driver Glenn Goldring made a good set of pace notes on the pre-event reconnaissance and were ready for a fight, but were forced to change their plan when they saw rival Robbie Stokes stopped only 300 metres into the opening stage.

From there, Sheehan was focussed on making the finish and also trying several new things with the car and himself, finding a more comfortable level on the tight and twisty roads than 12 months earlier on his north island debut.

Outside of a puncture in special stage two and a new tyre compound that was too soft for the hard-packed Coromandel roads, Sheehan enjoyed a trouble-free run and came home to take not only victory, but full points on the power stage as well.

“Obviously it would’ve been great to battle with Robbie but at the end of the day we had an awesome day out and I’m stoked with how far we’ve come in the last 12 months,” said Sheehan. “The notes are just working so much better for me now and I really found a level of enjoyment from the roads that wasn’t there last year. Outside of the puncture, our first in two years, it was a near perfect day out.”

The Sheehans Motorsport team now prepare themselves for the final round of the NZRC, Rally Waitomo, on October 19.

Tue, 20 Aug 2019 - Paddon Rallysport Group develops world-first electric rally car with Hyundai New Zealand

The multi-championship winning rally team, Paddon Rallysport, has revealed they are undertaking a ground-breaking new project – the design, development and construction of the world’s first electric rally car that will be capable of running full length rallies.

Headed by New Zealand’s most successful rally driver, Hayden Paddon, the Hyundai Kona EV rally car project is being undertaken at Paddon Rallysport Group’s (PRG) headquarters at the Highlands Innovation and Technology Park in Cromwell, Central Otago, New Zealand.

Paddon is passionate about the project which will showcase PRG’s capabilities with their new way of thinking about electric vehicle technologies and how these can be applied to the sport of rallying.

Paddon says: “This first EV rally car from the new PRG division Alternative Energy Motorsport Development (AEMD) will be a showstopper in terms of performance and will do things differently to electric-powered competition vehicles seen to date.”

A Hyundai Kona forms the foundation of the EV rally car, thanks to Paddon’s long-term commercial partner Hyundai New Zealand.

The team is only eight months away from their first major milestone – having the first prototype running by April 2020 – but where did the idea come from?

Early in 2018, Paddon and his father Chris were thinking about what PRG’s future would be – national or international? What sort of vehicles would be used in competition in five to ten years?

Paddon: “Alternative energy powerplants are very quickly evolving in the consumer-focused automotive sector, but the same developments are not as widespread in motorsport and certainly not in rallying. A friend and I discussed the concept of electric-powered rally cars. Not unlike most motorsport enthusiasts and their first impressions of the concept, I thought ‘not EV!’ But the more I thought about it, the more potential I could see to align top tier rallying with the technology aims of major vehicle manufacturers.”

Serious planning commenced, looking at the organisation’s structure, personnel requirements and location. Next, Paddon approached possible commercial partners.

“With their support, we were able to develop the concept through to the planning stages and formally involve our first people. Then came the vital technical partnerships with Stohl Advanced Research and Development (STARD) in Austria and the University of Canterbury Engineering Facility, through their University of Canterbury Motorsport (UCM) project team.”

The Hyundai EV rally car project requires a number of engineering challenges to be resolved. “From some of the EV technology that already exists, performance is already there – some cars have up to 1000bhp (745kW). It’s how you harness that performance for rallying, for example with torque vectoring for gravel/low grip situations and the range needed to complete a full day’s rallying.”

Ensuring that the EV rally car produces sound is also vital. “I’m committed to making sure our car creates the kind of noise a rally fan enjoys. From an entirely practical point of view, a rally car needs to create a loud and distinctive sound for the safety of officials, marshals, media and spectators out viewing the rally action.”

PRG is also working on fire and safety systems, safety processes for rally event personnel and charging systems.

“Rallying opens up more challenges compared to circuit racing in terms of range, charging systems and sound, and when we find solutions for these elements, many will be applicable to the general road user/EV car owner.”

Hyundai New Zealand General Manager Andy Sinclair says: “We are excited to be involved in the development of the world’s first electric rally car with Paddon Rallysport. As the number one new EV brand in New Zealand we are committed to being at the forefront of innovation and championing the EV industry here, so this project aligns with us leading the way.”

With April 2020 the target to complete the first prototype Hyundai EV rally car, PRG will continue testing and developing the car, and run it smaller domestic events through the rest of 2020. Moving into 2021, PRG will focus on expanding the EV rally car’s range so it’s capable of running in full length rallies. This is a key challenge that underpins all the development work since the project started. During that year, the second prototype will also be in development.

As New Zealand’s most successful rally team, Paddon Rallysport has a proven heritage with motorsport development projects. They created the first Hyundai AP4 rally car in the world – built to New Zealand’s very successful AP4 regulations – a car which helped Hyundai New Zealand to secure the first-ever rallying manufacturer’s title for Hyundai anywhere in the world. This alternative energy motorsport development project is an exciting evolution of the team which offers global opportunities.

Mon, 19 Aug 2019 - Ben Hunt pilots Subaru WRX STI to his second national rally championship title win

Subaru driver Ben Hunt is elated to have wrapped up the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) today, with a round to spare.

Hunt and his long-time co-driver Tony Rawstorn needed only to finish eighth or higher in the one-day Dayle ITM Goldrush Rally of Coromandel to secure a second career title – after achieving his first win in a Subaru Impreza WRX in 2015 - but they went ahead and won it anyway.

“It is a huge credit to the Hunt Motorsports team, Speedhub Motorsport, Subaru, all my sponsors and everyone that has helped us out. So many people put in a lot of time and effort and we don’t do enough of the other things we love doing but when you get results like this, it makes it all worth it.” “Hunt says.

Hunt and Rawstorn have certainly capped off a decade of rallying together in the most memorable way today.

“It’s five from five so we might have to pull Waitomo out of the bag. We want to do what no other NZRC driver has been able to do before and carry off that sixth win at Waitomo next month,” Hunt says.

The Auckland-based Subaru brand ambassador took a measured approach to the day - in the Subaru WRX STI that his Hunt Motorsports team built into a rally-dominating machine three years ago - determined not to derail his successful season. He didn’t feel the need to win every stage of eight, held around the Mercury Bay region, although he stayed within the top two for the first seven stages, before disaster nearly struck on the brand-new final stage. During the 2.5 laps of tarmac roads in the commercial area near the Whitianga airport, Hunt experienced fuel surges on the short super special stage but managed to sneak it home.

“At that stage it was more about getting to the finish line and we were surprised to have stayed in the lead,” Hunt said.

Hunt’s success this season has seen him voted the championship’s best driver this year - securing 83% of the votes – in the recently-completed NZRC Competitor Survey.

“Our Subaru also polled as the most competitive car in the championship, which is a real credit to the team and all our sponsors who back us and allow us to continually develop and fine tune our WRX STI into a rally-winner,” Hunt says.

In repeating his 2015 title success, Hunt has boosted the ultimate Kiwi adventure brand further into the Manufacturer’s Championship lead. Subaru is ahead by 19 points with one round of the NZRC remaining at Waitomo on October 19.

Subaru of New Zealand’s Managing Director Wallis Dumper joins the Subaru team in congratulating Hunt and Rawstorn.

“Ben and his team’s top result is a reflection of their commitment to the Subaru brand and Hunt Motorsports' NZRC campaign. Subaru have been rally supporters for decades, and to see five rallies won consecutively adds to our proud rally heritage. Ben has shown that being able to depend on Symmetrical All-Wheel Drive is the way to finish rallies and to finish them first,” Mr Dumper says.

In winning his fifth consecutive rally in the 2019 NZRC, Hunt joins just three other drivers to have achieved this feat in a season. He is in illustrious company with rallying greats Joe Mc Andrew (2014), Richard Mason (2014) and Hayden Paddon (2018) the only competitors in the championship’s 44-year history to notch up five wins.

Hunt Motorsports is grateful for support in the 2019 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship from: Subaru of New Zealand, Hydraulink, Motul Oil, Vantage Windows and Doors, Speedhub Motorsport, Gull NZ Fuel, Winger Subaru, Hella NZ, Reiger suspension, Bluebridge, MTF Finance, Wurth, Mean Machine Engines, Vernon Developments, TCC Solutions, Hitech Motorsport, Hunt Diesel, Make Architects, Pirelli, Pagid Racing Brake Pads, Nuzest, SOS and Hammer King.

Thu, 15 Aug 2019 - Campbell returns to happy hunting ground

Tauranga’s Phil Campbell returns to a happy hunting ground for the Dayle ITM Goldrush Rally Coromandel this weekend for the penultimate round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship.

The Whitianga-based event was the scene of Campbell’s first NZRC round win back in 2014 and since then he has also recorded a second place in 2015 and just missed the podium with fourth in 2017.

A challenging 2019 season started with a podium finish but a pair of did-not finishes see Campbell in sixth, although still with the opportunity to get amongst the top three with a couple of strong results to finish the season.

The Campbell Rally Sport team have made good use of the almost two-month break between events to check over The Roofing Store Ford Fiesta AP4, including a full gearbox rebuild after retiring from the latest South Canterbury round.

“I’m really looking forward to Coromandel, obviously it holds some pretty special memories for us with the first round win,” says Campbell. “This year has been really up and down, we’ve finished two rallies and we’ve been third and fourth, so if we can have a couple of strong finishes we should end up close to the top three.”

The Dayle ITM Goldrush Rally Coromandel kicks off with a ceremonial start on Friday night at 6pm in Whitianga’s Albert Street. The following day sees eight special stages around the Coromandel Peninsula totalling 126 kilometres.

Wed, 14 Aug 2019 - Barker aims to Conquer Coromandel

The Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship heads to Whitianga this weekend for round 5, The Goldrush Rally of Coromandel. Where Stephen Barker will make his first appearance at the event. The rally gets underway with a Ceremonial start on Friday night before tackling 126 competitive kilometres over 8 stages on Saturday.

A break from the championship following disappointing results in round 1 and 2 has left the Barker eager to get back behind the wheel, this time with a new objective. Having started his last two rallies together with Co-Driver Chris MacIver in search of event knowledge and points. The pair showed good speed but ultimately came up empty handed. Meaning the focus now shifts towards pushing for a maiden rally win.

“The two dnfs were really tough for Chris and I after putting so much effort into being there. So, we made the call to focus our efforts on the two remaining north island events. The Championship is long gone but I am determined to keep building on the speed we have and win a rally” says Barker.

Now happy with the performance of the teams Mitsubishi Evo 9. Barker believes the key to being on the podium this weekend will be a successful pre rally Reconnaissance. With only one opportunity to drive Saturday’s stages in advance. The importance of correct information in the notes the pair create has never greater.

“We pushed hard at round two in Whangarei and we were fighting for the lead from the first stage. I underestimated our speed during the reconnaissance there and a small off cost us the good result”, Barker admits.

The Coromandel Rally will serve up a mixture of tight technical and fast flowing gravel stages. With forecast rain set to play a role in the day’s competition. A challenge Barker is geared up for.

As the team finalises preparations for the event, they would like to acknowledge the support of: Online Stabilisers, GHL Temp Fence, Baker Boys Nursery, Wrigley Concrete, Manukau Auto Centre, Ingham Mitsubishi, Dunlop Tyres, Winmax Brakes, Howser Classics, Waikato Mobile Windscreens, Pickerill Auto Electrical, Rallydrive NZ

Recent Results
2019 Points
1EstoniaOtt TÄNAK180
2FranceSébastien OGIER158
3BelgiumThierry NEUVILLE155
4United KingdomElfyn EVANS78
5NorwayAndreas MIKKELSEN71
6FinlandTeemu SUNINEN66
7United KingdomKris MEEKE60
8FinlandEsapekka LAPPI58
9FinlandJari-Matti LATVALA56
10SpainDani SORDO52
11FranceSébastien LOEB39
12United KingdomGus GREENSMITH6
13FranceYoann BONATO4
14FranceStéphane SARRAZIN2
15FranceAdrien FOURMAUX1
1New ZealandHayden Paddon100
2AustraliaHarry Bates77
3AustraliaLewis Bates55
4New ZealandAndrew Hawkeswood53
5AustraliaMolly Taylor45
6New ZealandJack Hawkeswood42
7New ZealandDavid Holder30
8AustraliaMarcus Walkem20
9New ZealandMike Young19
10JapanSuguru Kawana12
1New ZealandBen Hunt176
2New ZealandJosh Marston122
3New ZealandDylan Thomson89
4New ZealandAnthony Jones68
5New ZealandDylan Turner65
6New ZealandMarcus Van Klink62
7New ZealandMatt Summerfield61
8New ZealandKingsley Jones59
9New ZealandPhil Campbell51
10New ZealandAndrew Hawkeswood46
11New ZealandRaana Horan45
12New ZealandWayne Pittams44
13New ZealandJack Hawkeswood43
14New ZealandJob Quantock38
14New ZealandBrian Green38
16New ZealandMike Sheehan36
17New ZealandRobbie Stokes34
17New ZealandDave Strong34
19New ZealandCharlie Evans33
20New ZealandJeff Judd27
1New ZealandDylan Turner59
2New ZealandDylan Thomson47
3New ZealandAnthony Jones39
4New ZealandStephen Barker33
5New ZealandBrian Green30
6New ZealandBen Thomasen24
7New ZealandPhil Campbell23
7New ZealandWayne Pittams23
9New ZealandScott Rutherford16
9New ZealandMike Goldsbury16
11New ZealandCharlie Evans15
11New ZealandRobbie Stokes15
13New ZealandJeff Judd13
13New ZealandPhil Macquarie13
13New ZealandEthan O'Hagan13
16New ZealandDave Strong12
16New ZealandDaniel Alexander12
18New ZealandBrent Taylor10
19New ZealandWayne Rowberry9
19New ZealandBrendan Oakden9
1New ZealandGaret Thomas99
2New ZealandJob Quantock98
3New ZealandJosh Marston82
4New ZealandRegan Ross80
5New ZealandMatthew Wright74
5New ZealandMarcus Van Klink74
7New ZealandMatt Summerfield73
8New ZealandSean Haggarty71
9New ZealandJeff Judd61
10New ZealandGarry Cliff47
10New ZealandRobbie Stokes47
12New ZealandPhil Collins40
12New ZealandJohn Giltrap40
12New ZealandDavid Gee40
15New ZealandTim Smith35
16New ZealandDeane Buist33
17New ZealandBrad Harris32
18New ZealandNick Marston29
19New ZealandDavid Taylor21
20New ZealandDave Ollis20
1New ZealandEddie Bell110
1New ZealandHaydn McKenzie110
3New ZealandDavid Rogers106
4New ZealandBarry Kirk-Burnnand104
5New ZealandAndrew Oakley96
5New ZealandSteven Kirk-Burnnand96
5New ZealandMike Tubbs96
8New ZealandAnthony Butler94
9New ZealandJeremy Friar90
10New ZealandRory Callaway86
10New ZealandTim James86
10New ZealandGraeme Wong86
10New ZealandEddie Grooten86
14New ZealandGraeme Drummond84
15New ZealandTim McIver82
16New ZealandShane Walden81
17AustraliaRobert Darrington79
17New ZealandRichard Gillies79
19New ZealandIvan Knauf78
19New ZealandJohn Rae78