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World Champ shakes down at Rakaia Zig Zag Sprint
World Champ shakes down at Rakaia Zig Zag sprint Thirty drivers turned out for the Autosport Clubs 2014 Rakaia Zig Zag Rd Sprint on Sunday 4th May. Among the field was 2011 PWRC World Champion Hayden Paddon who entered the event to help the Rossendale Wines team shake down their newly rebuilt RS 1800 Escort, in preparation for 1994 WRC World Champion Didier Auriol to drive the car at the Otago Classic Rally the following weekend.
Zig Zag Road snakes its way up the side of one of the foothills of the Southern Alps giving drivers 2.5 km of smooth twisty gravel to test themselves, with a straight at the end going into a fast right hand turn just before the finish.
NZRC Driver Matt Summerfield set the early pace in his Impreza, ahead of Mike Tall in his Evo4 and Rodney Lang in his Evo3. Paddon had never competed on this road before and would place 3rd of the 2WD’s first up, behind Ross Teesdale in his double boosted Toyota AE86 and Merv Hatcher’s classic Starion Turbo. Both Teesdale and Hatcher have experience on the road and expected Paddon to get ahead of them once he learnt the road.
Run two saw Tall jump to the top, going 3 seconds quicker than Summerfield who dropped to second, while Lang remained in third ahead of Gary Hawkes in his Evo 9. With a clean line now appearing Paddon dropped 6 seconds in run two but was again beaten by Teesdale, by four 10ths this time, with Hatcher also one 10th ahead, to keep second for now. Hamish Anderson had his front drive Levin on the pace to lead the 1600 cc class by 2.4 seconds over David Fahey in his 4AGE powered Mk1 Escort. Josh Mitchell was third of the 1600’s at this stage while Graham Wilson held a 1.3 second lead over Grant Goile in the 1300 class.
The last chance for glory came in run three. Summerfield found 3 seconds, but Tall found a little more to take the win by 1.5 seconds over Summerfield. Gary Hawkes got ahead of Lang to take third, while Leigh Marston took his Impreza to fourth dropping Lang to fifth.
With a lot of attention on our home grown WRC star, Paddon fired the left hand drive Rossendale Wines BDA up the course for the last time, finding another 1.7 seconds to record 1:42.1 in the car. Ross Teesdale then went out and surprised most by recording 1:39.1 in his AE86 to take the 2WD outright win by 3 seconds over our Kiwi WRC factory driver. Merv Hatcher took third in the open 2WD class, 1.1 seconds behind Paddon.
In the 1600’s Anderson was on fire, recording 1:42.4 to easily win the 1600 cc class and beat home many of the open class 2WD’s. Dave Fahey put caution to the wind in the last run to try to overhaul Anderson, but it all went wrong when Fahey tried to take the last bend flat out, and ending up rolling through a heavy duty bit of fence and badly damaging his formerly immaculate Mk1. Josh Mitchell took second in the class in his 4AGE powered Starlet, with Fahey’s run two time enough for him to take third.
Graham Wilson won the 1300 cc class in his Suzuki twin-cam powered Starlet by just six 10th’s from Grant Goile in his KE30 Corolla. Newish competitor James Palmer took third in class in his Starlet, 4 seconds back from Goile.
It was a great honour to have Hayden at our event mixing with our club racers. Many commented on what a great guy he is, friendly and down to earth. For anyone that knows him, that is with-out doubt. He was there just to give the car a shakedown and was running used rear tyres, so he was unlikely to be running at ten tenths. But for Ross Teesdale who managed to beat a BDA driven by our World Champion Rally Driver by 3 seconds over 2.5 km’s, that may be lost in translation as the story is retold over the years.
Words by Ross Teesdale, Club Captain
Jim Tennant in his Nissan 240RS at the 2013 Rakaia Zig Zag Gravel Sprint