New Zealanders dominate P-WRC podium on home rally as Paddon takes victory
Trio of New Zealanders, Hayden Paddon, Emma Gilmour and Kingsley Thompson made up an entirely home grown top three respectively on the fourth round of the 2010 FIA Production car World Rally Championship at Rally New Zealand this weekend.

Pirelli Star Driver and 2009 New Zealand Rally Champion Paddon and co-driver John Kennard held the lead from SS4 to the end of the rally, winning eight stages and increasing their lead each day to finish a comfortable 3 minutes 15.4 seconds ahead of second-placed Gilmour.

In a Subaru sandwiched between two Mitsubishis, Gilmour held second after fellow guest driver Richard Mason retired on SS6 on Day One retirement, and she wasn’t letting go. Even a melted clutch on the first day, a flat tyre on Day Two after hitting a bank on SS11 and losing power on Day Three could not deter the only female driver in the P-WRC and her partner-co-driver Glenn Macneall.

Kingsley Thompson, representing the Czech National Team in place of Martin Semerád, took the final spot on the podium in his first ever Rally New Zealand. Like Gilmour, he held his position from SS6, despite losing fifth gear on SS10, getting a puncture on SS12 and finally fearing he would be unable to return to the service park and be forced to retire from the rally when he punctured his radiator on the final stage.

Following Argentine Mitsubishi driver Miguel Baldoni’s brake failure on SS12 which forced him to retire permanently from the rally, Chinese Liu Chao Dong took fourth place driving for the Anders Grøndal World Rally Team. However, when Liu rolled his Subaru on the final stage of the rally, he too retired and left Japanese driver Toshi Arai to claim what was for him a disappointing 12 P-WRC points for fourth.

Having won the P-WRC in New Zealand in 2007, but retired in 2008, two-time P-WRC Champion Arai was back to prove himself in his Subaru this year. Unfortunately, after a small mistake on SS4 resulted in him hitting a bridge and bending a rear suspension arm, he then he lost all power on SS8 and had to retire from Day One leaving him in ninth place in the P-WRC. Despite competitive times for the rest of the rally and climbing five places by the end of Day Three, Arai’s hopes of repeating his 2007 P-WRC win were destroyed.

Driving car 40 on the 40th anniversary of Rally New Zealand didn’t prove to be the good luck charm Richard Mason and his wife and co-driver Sara hoped for on their home rally this weekend. Their 100% record of podium finishes in P-WRC rounds entered was shattered when they had an accident in their Mitsubishi on SS6, forcing them to retire from the event.

Italian Mitsubishi driver Fabio Frisiero did not attend Rally New Zealand due to a pressing business engagement at home. The Stewards of the rally decided not to exclude the Hawk Racing entry from the P-WRC. Instead they levied a €3,000 fine and reminded Hawk Racing of its obligation to participate in the remaining three rallies it has nominated.

1st – HAYDEN PADDON (NZL): “We came here wanting to get maximum points and it’s been perfect for us. We weren’t the fastest on every stage, but that isn’t the point, we were consistent. To win your first P-WRC round is pretty special.”

2nd – EMMA GILMOUR (NZL): “Great result for us this weekend and for the Kiwis. If anyone is organising an event oversees and looking for a fast female driver, please get in touch!”

3rd – KINGSLEY THOMPSON (NZL): “Obviously we were a little nervous after we nudged a bank on the final stage of the day and punctured the radiator, but we had a pretty good day overall. We stayed consistent, which led us to a good result. Now we just have to make it to the finish ramp!”

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