Hayden Paddon has put the world rally scene on notice, outclassing all local and overseas drivers at the International Rally of Whangarei over the weekend and chalking up 12 stage records along the way.
The former Production World Rally Champion - piloting his Evo 9 - finished the 16-stage event 4m 6s clear of fellow Dunlop driver Richard Mason.
Although not eligible for the Asia Pacific Rally Championship, Paddon also finished 3m 29s ahead of APRC winner Esapekka Lappi of Finland.
“It was pretty perfect. We had no major problems; our speed’s been good and I’ve really enjoyed driving the car,” said Paddon, who won six of eight stages on Saturday and eight of eight on Sunday.
“I couldn’t ask for anything more and it’s been a good warm-up for Europe.”
Paddon now leads the series with 88 points to Mason’s 62, with Dunlop’s Ben Hunt in third place on 39.
Dunlop motorsport manager Richard Fraser said both the drivers and tyres performed superbly over 730.40km of Northland roads in testing weather conditions.
“All the guys on Dunlop drove a stellar campaign, negotiating fog, damp gravel and periods of heavy rain,” said Richard.
“Hats off to Hayden, who really proved he deserves a spot on the world stage.”
The next round is in Manawatu for the Daybreaker Rally on 29 June.