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Tue, 19 Feb 2019 - Rally New Zealand announces co-driver academy class of 2019

Rally New Zealand are proud to announce the six co-drivers who have been selected to participate in the 2019 Rally New Zealand Co-driver Academy, to be held in Auckland on April 5-7. This year the Academy is being run pre season to allow entrants to apply their knowledge for a full season.

2019 marks the third occasion that Rally New Zealand has run the academy which sees co-drivers train with experienced professionals Alex and Rhianon Gelsomino on all aspects of the co-driving role. The pair have forged careers competing all around the world and have included victories in rounds of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship. In addition to the expert training provided by Alex and Rhianon the participants also receive instruction and advice from a number of other experienced local rally competitors and officials as part of the three-day programme.

“We’re very excited to announce this year’s successful applicants. This year’s successful applicants have a broad range of experience and we’ve got a number of younger co-drivers with very strong goals moving forward which is great to see. We know that this group will benefit immensely from training with Alex and Rhianon,” said Paul Mallard, chairman Rally New Zealand.

Rally New Zealand has a proud history of supporting the development of competitors in rallying and we look forward to seeing the progression of this group following in the footsteps of several other competitors who have had support from Rally New Zealand in the past. These include the likes of Ben Hunt who won the first Rally New Zealand Rising Stars Scholarship and has gone on to win several classes in the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship culminating in the overall championship in 2015. Supporting the development of the sport at its highest level is something that we feel strongly about, and this means supporting current top-level competitors as well as those who have a clear ambition and plan to achieve this level.”

The six successful applicants are:

Jared Hudson – Christchurch – Finished second in the NZRC Two-wheel drive class in 2018, stepping up to the Gull Rally Challenge Four-wheel drive class in 2019. Jared follows his sister Amy through the co-driver academy who was in the 2018 intake.

Alex Parkin – Auckland – Co-drove with Jack Hawkeswood in the NZRC Two-wheel drive class in 2018, including a podium finish. The pair will step up to the outright four-wheel drive class in 2019 driving an AP4 Mazda 2.

Michele Brunt – Warkworth – Long-time co-driver with names including Stephen Barker and Rod Millen, also a long-time Clerk of the Course and event organiser. Preparing for a 2019 Gull Rally Challenge campaign with Justin Glavish.

Brianna Little – Auckland – Has co-driven for multiple experienced drivers in rallies and testing. The daughter of prominent former competitor and current car preparation expert Chris “Choice” Little, she is looking to move up to the NZRC in 2019.

Nathan Pilcher – Auckland – Currently co-driving with Andy Gillies in the Gull Rally Challenge two-wheel drive class following success competing as a driver in circuit racing as well as rallying.

Zoe Jones – Auckland – Currently co-driving with Amy Keighley in the NZRC Two-wheel drive class. One of three rally competitors in the Thames Valley based Jones family.

“Unfortunately as always there were more applicants than spaces available, and we hope to see those that missed out this time work with the feedback provided and to see them apply again in the future,” This year, as was the case last year, we have some successful applicants who had previously applied and missed out, this reinforces the dedication needed to succeed in the sport,” adds Mallard.

The 2019 Rally New Zealand Co-drivers Academy takes place in Auckland from April 5-7. The six attendees will receive professional training in all aspects of the co-driver’s role including practical pace note writing exercises, event planning, fitness training and media promotional activities.

Fri, 15 Feb 2019 - Paddon Rallysport sets up new base at Highlands Motorsport Park

This year brings a new era for Paddon Rallysport as the team behind Kiwi rally star Hayden Paddon embarks on fresh plans with an international focus from their new base at Highlands Motorsport Park in Central Otago, New Zealand.

The first step has been for the team to lease a state-of-the-art workshop at Highlands, right near the pit straight of the world-class racing circuit. The 500 sq. m workshop’s location means Paddon Rallysport has great testing facilities literally on their doorstep in one of the most visually-spectacular regions of the world.

“Paddon Rallysport has been in operation for 12 years since we started our first full New Zealand Rally Championship campaign,” says Paddon. “The move to our new facilities at Highlands signals a massive step forward for the company as we embark on some new projects and new objectives. The modern facilities here mean we have a fantastic place to base our team for the future and give us great opportunities to develop and expand in the coming years – eventually with a goal to take our Kiwi team international.”

Josie Spillane, Highlands’ Chief Operating Officer, is equally pleased to have the high-profile Kiwi team onsite. “We are incredibly excited to welcome Paddon Rallysport to Highlands. It’s yet further acknowledgement that what we’ve created here is very special. As the technology makes the global economy ever more accessible, you can work virtually anywhere in the world now, so why wouldn’t you choose Central Otago and Highlands?

“Hayden has got some very exciting plans, and we are keen to do what we can to help realise his vision. We love getting behind people who aren’t afraid to put in the hard yards, take a risk and use the infamous Kiwi #8 wire mentality to get things done.

“Paddon Rallysport is now an anchor tenant in our Highlands innovation and technology park, and we look forward to beginning yet another chapter of Highlands’ legacy with him and his team.”

Paddon Rallysport continues with a domestic competition programme this year – with the exact events being contested in New Zealand with the Hyundai i20 AP4 car being confirmed in coming weeks.

However, their main focus will be new projects and new technology being developed with key commercial partners. To help achieve these goals, five or more personnel will be working full-time for the team, which is also launching a new division called On-Track Racing to provide service and repairs for the competition cars used by Highlands Motorsport Park members.

“My life always has and always will be devoted to rallying,” says Paddon. “Our new venture is a way to continue that, while also taking us in some new exciting directions. We have some big ambitions and we have some good people involved in these projects who bring the same passion and vision. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can achieve in the next few years, so watch this space!”

From a professional point of view, Paddon has recently announced he’ll contest the inaugural season of the Global Rallycross Europe Championship which commences in June. He is working on other options to compete in Europe and hopes to announce more about these possibilities within the next month.

More information about Paddon Rallysport can be found on their Facebook page: or by emailing ENDS/

Thu, 7 Feb 2019 - Otago Rally embraces APRC for 2019

For the first time, this year's Otago Rally will be a qualifying round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), with the event hosting round one of its Pacific Cup.

After a significant revamp after the 2018 APRC, the series is looking to re-invent itself by increasing the number of qualifying rounds, and encouraging more competitors to take part.

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.

The 2019 Otago Rally will form the opening round of the FIA APRC Pacific Rally Cup, with round two also in New Zealand (Rally Whangarei), followed by two rallies in Australia, before a grand finale at the end of the year.

"The Otago Rally organisers are enthusiastic about this opportunity as it gives us another way to promote the event and the city of Dunedin," Event Manager, Norman Oakley, said.

"Pacific Cup entrants will join what is looking like being a record field of competitors."

The 2019 Isuzu Dunedin Otago Rally also includes round one of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, and the renowned Winmax Brakes International Otago Classic Rally.

"We believe it will be the southernmost FIA championship rally in the world," Oakley added.

"It will provide a tremendous opportunity for competitors from New Zealand and Australia to contest a trophy that will have global recognition."

Full details on the Pacific Cup round of the APRC can be obtained by downloading the 'Rally Guide 1' from the event website, with Supplementary Regulations to be issued in the coming days.

The 2019 Otago Rally receives Major Events funding from Dunedin City Council, and is supported by the Otago Community Trust.

For more details on the rally, visit

Mon, 21 Jan 2019 - Subaru NZ gifts WRX STI to rally driver Ben Hunt

Subaru brand ambassador Ben Hunt is now the official owner of the purpose-built Subaru WRX STI rally car.

Subaru of New Zealand gifted ownership to him after three years in this production-based model.

Subaru have been sponsoring Hunt since the end of 2013. In recognition of his rallying talents, he was taken on as a brand ambassador in 2015. The company offered him the use of a brand-new production model Subaru WRX STI, which he had converted to a rally car.

His Hunt Motorsports team, alongside Speedhub Motorsport, spent countless hours transforming the Subaru WRX STI into a rally-fit machine. Now, three years later as part of the agreement, Subaru is handing over its keys.

Subaru of New Zealand Managing Director Wallis Dumper says it was a well-deserved transaction.

“Ben has been a brilliant ambassador for Subaru throughout the past three seasons with us. It is not an easy task to transform a road-going car into a competitive, rally winner but Ben and his team have done just that - achieving some outstanding results in the Subaru WRX STI along the way.”

“We were thrilled to see Ben finish second in the 2018 New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC), behind WRC driver Hayden Paddon. While in 2017, Ben and his long-term co-driver Tony Rawstorn helped Subaru win the NZRC’s Manufacturer’s Trophy, finishing as the third team overall in the process. Their continued success keeps Subaru’s rally heritage alive and we are happy to now be officially handing the keys over to Ben,” Mr Dumper says.

Hunt was thrilled to formally take possession of his Subaru WRX STI.

“It was great to head into the Subaru of New Zealand office and be presented with the keys to this awesome Subaru in front of the whole team. It was a proud moment, as it felt like a celebration of all the hard work, myself, Tony and our Hunt Motorsports team have put into running this double, national championship podium-achieving Subaru.”

“Ever since I was a kid, my rallying heroes were Subaru drivers Colin McRae and Possum Bourne, and it is amazing to be now competing with the Subaru brand, which is truly where my heart is,” Hunt adds.

He will continue as a Subaru brand ambassador this year and will campaign the Subaru WRX STI in this year’s six-round NZRC. Hunt will be looking to repeat his 2015 win, which he achieved in an older model Subaru WRX.

Hunt has an impressive rally career history, which was jump-started in 2009, when he won the inaugural Rally New Zealand Rising Stars scholarship. He followed that achievement up with two national 2WD titles and a junior championship trophy in 2011 and 2012.

Stepping up to an All-Wheel Drive vehicle in 2013, Hunt purchased the ex-Emma Gilmour Subaru WRX and finished fourth in the NZRC. The next year he moved up to second overall.

“I’ve been rallying Subarus for six years now and have had many rally wins and podiums in them. Tony and I look forward to doing our best to put the Subaru WRX STI back on the NZRC’s winner’s trophy next year,” Hunt says.

Sun, 6 Jan 2019 - Winmax signs on for 2019 Otago Classic Rally

Winmax Brakes and Paddon Rallysport have signed on as the naming rights sponsor for the 2019 Otago Classic Rally.

The new partnership is great news for the rally, and also coincides with Hayden Paddon's announcement that he will contest the 2019 Otago Rally in his Hyundai i20 AP4+.

"We're delighted to welcome Winmax Brakes and Paddon Rallysport to the family of supporters for the Otago Rally," event spokesman, Roger Oakley, said.

"Winmax are the first choice for many competitors at all levels of the sport and we are proud to be associated with such a quality brand.

"Having Hayden competing at Otago is exciting for everyone involved," he added.

"He brings world-class action for the spectators, and a benchmark for the competitors.

Hayden is a wonderful ambassador of the sport, and does a huge amount to promote it." Paddon's return to the Otago Rally will ensure spectator numbers are at record levels for the April event.

"The Otago Rally is my favourite event," Paddon says.

"I love the smooth, fast roads, and the enthusiasm that Dunedin has for the event.

The camaraderie of the NZ rally community is a special thing to be part of."

Norwegian Mads Ostberg will head the entry list for the Winmax Brakes by Paddon Rallysport Otago Classic Rally, driving a Ford Escort RS1800.

The 2019 Winmax Brakes by Paddon Rallysport Otago Classic Rally will run over the weekend of April 13 and 14, with two-days of fast-paced rally action following a publicity start in Dunedin's Octagon on Friday evening, April 12.

The rally is also round one of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship, and the opening round of the 2019 Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

The 2019 Otago Rally receives Major Events funding from Dunedin City Council, and is supported by the Otago Community Trust. For more details on the rally, visit

Fri, 21 Dec 2018 - The iconic International Rally of Whangarei returns for 2019

The 2019 International Rally of Whangarei is shaping up to be a great international event.

The 2019 event will include a re-invigorated Clubmans event (ROW), a new classic 2wd class run to the Otago Classic rules and changes to the FIA APRC event, to cater to all teams and spectators. The recent changes to the APRC for 2019 (reg’s released soon) provide our NZ crews a huge opportunity to do the first two rounds of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship and qualify for the final in India, the shootout for the crown of 2019 Asia Pacific Rally Champion.

The 2019 event will kick off on Thursday 2nd / Friday 3rd May with the traditional two pass recce. Then the teams head to the amazing Te Matau a Pohe Bridge (Pohe Island) for the Ceremonial Start, which is then followed by the new and improved Super Special stage. This year the Whangarei District Council have approved a very exciting facelift of the SSS, with addition of a jump and some adjustments to the stage layout to add more spectacle in front of the Te Matau a Pohe Bridge for spectators, it should make for exciting viewing.

Saturday will see the crews tackle the demanding stages north of Whangarei, while Sunday will be based on the WRC roads to the south of Whangarei. The ceremonial finish for the IROW will be held in Whangarei’s town basin on Sunday afternoon, and a new format will be in place for the ROW finish. Headquarters will be at the newly re-named Northland Events Centre, Okara Drive, with the service park just down the road on the corner of Okara Drive and Port Road.

With superstar Irish Driver Frank Kelly confirmed for both the Otago Rally in April, and the Rally of Whangarei, it is set to be an exciting event for all involved.

IROW and ROW organisers are working on the finer details for release in the new year but have confirmed the event outline with the support of the Whangarei District Council and Far North District Council.

Keep an eye out for more information in the new year about this iconic event, entry deals and some of the exciting overseas entries coming to Whangarei.

Mon, 17 Dec 2018 - Big plans for 25th anniversary Targa event and year

It’s been a big year for New Zealand marathon motorsport event organiser the Ultimate Rally Group (URG). But you won’t find company CEO and Targa/Silver Fern Rally Event Director Peter Martin taking a break any time soon.

Martin has just announced the dates and basic details for his two big 2019 Targa events and is also well-advanced on plans for the next (biennial) NZ Silver Fern Rally in 2020.

“It’s just the name of the game,” Martin said on Monday. “We’re getting more and more interest in our events from overseas and – particularly for a pre-eminent marathon one like the Silver Fern these guys plan their programmes two and sometimes even three years out. “It’s important, too, with our two Targa products, that people here know in advance when they are and where they start and finish. Hence our decision to lock in our dates as early as we could for 2019.

Martin plans to celebrate 2019 – and the 25th annual Targa New Zealand event – in style, with a number of initiatives aimed at seeing the entry top the 200 mark.

The year starts with a three-day Rotorua-Havelock North – provisionally named ‘Targa Rotorua/Hawke’s Bay’ event – in May. Documentation will be held in Rotorua on Thursday May 16 followed by three full days of competition covering over 480kms of closed special stages and 700km of touring from Friday May 17 to Sunday May 19.

This, in effect, will be the taster for the full five-day 25th anniversary Targa New Zealand event from Taupo to Palmerston North (“basically, says Martin, “It’s a ’best of’ event through the heart of the North Island”) between Tuesday October 29 and Saturday November 02 2019.

As part of the 25th anniversary celebrations there will be a special Legends Dinner in Taupo on the eve of the event (Labour Day Monday October 28) as well as a gala prize-giving function in Palmerston North on Saturday November 02 timed so that everyone can watch the World Cup rugby final live from Yokohama, Japan, due to start at 10.00pm that night.

Having successfully run a new Time Trial event-within-the-event in association with the Vintage Car Club of NZ as part of the 2018 Targa New Zealand event in the South Island, Martin is now opening up that option to all comers in both 2019 events.

“Everyone involved loved the Time Trial we ran this year so we have decided to open up the concept for both our events this year. We will still, obviously, be working with the Vintage Car Club of NZ so that those with older cars can join in the fun, but we are also welcoming anyone who likes the specific challenge of driving to an average speed, rather than flat-out,”

Though they get to run over the same closed roads as the competition and Targa Tour cars, the nature of a Time Trial means speeds will be much lower, so those entering can do so in any car, new, old or in-between, as long as it is registered and has a current Warrant of Fitness.

That means a lot less compliance cost, opening the event up to more people, something which Martin says is key to its long-term viability.

“We hear it all the time when we talk to people about our events. So many tell us that they would love to do Targa…if they had a suitable car, or if they could get time off work, or if they could somehow see what one was like before committing themselves to buying or building a car!

“This way they can! As long as they have a car with a Reg and WoF all they need now is the entry fee, a co-driver and – in the case or our new Rotorua/Hawke’s Bay event - a couple of days’ annual leave. If that isn’t an incentive to finally turn their dream of doing the event into reality I don’t know what is?”

Targa New Zealand events are organised by the Ultimate Rally Group with the support of sponsors, Chicane Racewear, Global Security, HW Richardson Group, Invercargill Licensing Trust, NZ Classic Car magazine, Race Brakes, Race4Life Trust, Racetech, TeamTalk, TrackIt, and Writeraze.

Fri, 14 Dec 2018 - Hyundai Motorsport fine-tunes its WRC line-up for 2019
Hyundai Motorsport has announced that Spaniard Dani Sordo and Frenchman Sébastien Loeb will compete for the team in the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC)
Nine-time WRC champion Loeb has signed a two-year contract that will see him contest six rounds of the 2019 season in a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC alongside co-driver Daniel Elena
Sordo will remain a Hyundai Motorsport driver for the sixth consecutive season, joining co-driver Carlos del Barrio for eight events.

Alzenau, Germany

December 13, 2018 – Hyundai Motorsport has confirmed that Dani Sordo and Sébastien Loeb will join its 2019 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) campaign, representing a strong signal of intent from the Alzenau-based team.

As part of a two-year contract, nine-time champion Loeb will compete in six rounds of the 2019 season in a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC alongside long-time co-driver Daniel Elena, starting with Rallye Monte-Carlo in January.

The Frenchman registered his 79th WRC victory in spectacular fashion at Rally de España in October, his first since 2013. He will get his first taste of the Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC prior to Rallye Monte-Carlo, the opening round of the 2019 WRC season.

For Sordo, a one-year contract extension to run eight events into 2019 will mark his sixth consecutive season with Hyundai Motorsport. The Spaniard, alongside co-driver Carlos del Barrio, scored five top-five results in seven starts in 2018, including two podium finishes. Their precise programme for next season is still to be defined but will commence at Rally México in March.

Loeb and Sordo, who were previously WRC team-mates for four seasons from 2007-2010, will join Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen on the team’s driver roster for 2019. Hyundai Motorsport also has an open dialogue with Hayden Paddon to discuss options for his involvement with the team into next year.

Sébastien Loeb said: “I am delighted to announce that Daniel and I will compete in six WRC events for Hyundai Motorsport in 2019, beginning with Rallye Monte-Carlo. Winning at Rally de España this season re-ignited my desire to continue competing at the very front of WRC. Joining Hyundai will give us a fresh challenge and one that I can’t wait to tackle. I have been impressed with the team’s approach and their determination to succeed. They were firmly in the title fight this season and I feel that I can bring a lot to them, together with Thierry, Andreas and Dani. The Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC is a proven rally winner, and as a crew we know can still be up there with the best, so 2019 promises to be an exciting season!”

Dani Sordo said: “Hyundai Motorsport has really become a special team to me, so I am pleased to remain part of the WRC line-up. We have built some good memories over the years, and, alongside Carlos, I felt that 2018 was one of my most competitive seasons. We know that when things work in our favour we can really be strong contenders. It is important for us to learn from the difficult moments and come back stronger – that’s the aim for 2019. We have an exciting crew line-up with Sébastien coming on board. He brings an immeasurable amount of experience which will be a huge benefit to the entire team as we move forward.”

Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “Sébastien’s announcement is hugely important for Hyundai Motorsport, and we’re overjoyed that he has agreed a two-year contract. Sealing a deal with someone of his immense talent and calibre shows that we are an attractive and competitive proposition in the FIA World Rally Championship. Ultimately, our goal is to win the WRC title. We believe we have the package to achieve that, and our composition of crews for 2019 will perfectly reflect that ambition. We are also happy to retain the services of Dani for another year, extending a positive working relationship that dates back to 2014. With Thierry and Andreas already on the books for next season, we have an exciting mix of personalities and a complementary line-up. We are also still in talks with Hayden to see how we can work together into 2019. He is a great talent and a tremendous ambassador for Hyundai NZ, leading various motorsport projects.”
2019 Points
1EstoniaOtt TÄNAK42
2BelgiumThierry NEUVILLE40
3FranceSébastien OGIER31
4United KingdomKris MEEKE21
5New ZealandEsapekka LAPPI19
6FranceSébastien LOEB18
7New ZealandElfyn EVANS13
8New ZealandAndreas MIKKELSEN12
9FinlandJari-Matti LATVALA10
10United KingdomGus GREENSMITH6
11FranceYoann BONATO4
12FranceStéphane SARRAZIN2
13FranceAdrien FOURMAUX1
13FinlandTeemu SUNINEN1