The need to finish, catching up is a difficult option

| Photographer Credit: Terry Marshall/Euan Cameron Photography

With two of the five round 2021 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship now completed, the top three on the leader board are there because they have finished both Rally Otago and Whangarei.  It is no surprise that Haydon Paddon (Hyundai i20N AP4) is out in front after taking maximum points (44) at each round.  He has a 47-point lead over Josh Marston (Holden Barina AP4) who is just one-point ahead of Reagan Ross (Ford Fiesta R5).

At Otago, Marston (main picture) finished second with Ross third.  However, both ran into problems at Whangarei but still managed to finish the event, Ross in sixth and Marston in 15th places, gathering more points. 

These first two rounds are pivotal to what happens for the rest of the season.  Why?  Because both the Otago and Whangarei events were two-day events, and each offered additional bonus points, for both the first (Day 1) and for the second (Day 2) Legs’.  A maximum of seven for first place, down to one for seventh, on each day for each Category.  This is where Paddon, Marston and Ross have gained an advantage.  Plus there is up to five points available for the Power Stage at each event. (Paddon’s 44-points, at each event so far, come from 25 for first overall, 2 x 7 for first on each Leg and five for the Power Stage).

The remaining three one-day rounds have a maximum of 30-points each (25 for the win and five for first in the Power Stage). Hence the importance of finishing the first two rounds to position yourself for the remainder of the championship.

Ben Hunt (Subaru WRX) is fourth overall, just four points behind Ross.  Hunt retired on Leg 2 of Rally Otago, coming away with just three-points from the first round.  Finishing second at Whangarei has brought him back into the picture gaining another 34-points.

Raana Horan (Skoda Fabia R5) missed the first round but finished third at Whangarei and sits fifth overall. Four-points behind him is Duncan McCrostie (Mazda AP4) who, without gaining any bonus points, has two solid event placings.

Missing from the top ten are Emma Gilmour (Suzuki AP4), Robbie Stokes (Ford Fiesta AP4), Jack Hawkeswood (Mazda AP4) and Dylan Turner (Audi AP4). All four championship contenders having retired out of both events.

As with the first two rounds, we have seen that anything can happen, however, points on the board are crucial. Paddon is unlikely to be beaten so we may see a four-way fight for podium placings from Marston, Ross, Hunt and Horan. Don’t count-out the others who will be looking to claw back some glory, in one of the most competitive championships we have seen for a while.

2021 Brian Green Property Group NZ Rally Championship Points Table (Top 12)
1/ Hayden Paddon 88
2/ Josh Marston 41
3/ Regan Ross 40
4/ Ben Hunt 37
5/ Raana Horan 30
6= Duncan McCrostie 26
6= Ari Pettigrew 26
8= Anthony Jones 25
8= Dylan Thomson 25
8= John Silcock 25
8= Matt Summerfield 25
12/Kingsley Jones 22

NZ Rally Championship Calendar (remaining rounds)
Round 3 – Stadium Finance South Canterbury Rally – 19 June 2021
Round 4 – Rally Hawkes Bay – 24 July 2021
Round 4 – Rally Coromandel – 4 September 2021

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits talkmotorsport.co.nz. He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!

http://talkmotorsport.co.nz

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