The sixth round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC), powered by Würth, covered roads across once gold rich lands of inland Victoria, Australia. Starting with two runs of a Super Special stage on Saturday night the remaining eight tests were run on the Sunday.
Adding to those entered for the APRC round, New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon and co-driver Samantha Gray raised the stakes by joining the final Pacific Cup round in the loaned Walkem team Hyundai i20 R5. Having clean-swept the opening two rounds there was a chance third Pacific Cup round winner Harry Bates would do the same and tie for the title. Needing one point to break a potential deadlock Paddon and Gray stormed to an early lead.
“We touched something on the inside of a corner and it broke a bolt in the steering – just one of those things really – that we couldn’t do anything about,” said Paddon.
In the same stage the Subaru of Molly Taylor and Malcolm Read impacted with a tree to halt their competitive pace. That left brothers Harry and Lewis Bates in their respective Toyotas to front the field.
While Paddon went on to comfortably win three of the four remaining stages, Taylor was unable to extract full-speed. Finishing the second half of the day gave Paddon more than the single point needed for the title.
“It was nice to get Hyundai New Zealand another title – that was the main objective here this weekend. While we would have liked to have done better in the rally we got the result we came here for.”
Along with the rally and round win, consolation for Bates was co-driver John McCarthy taking the Pacific Cup co-driver title.
The next and penultimate round of the APRC returns to the Northern Hemisphere for Rally Hokkaido, Japan – 21 to 22 September.
1. H.BATES/McCARTHY, Toyota Yaris AP4, 1:11:32.1
2. L.BATES/McLOUGHLIN, Toyota Yaris AP4, +2:51.6
3. PADDON/GRAY, Hyundai i20 R5, +2:58:52.7
4. TAYLOR/READ, Subaru WRX Sti P5, +4:17:57.6
Photos: Arron Wishart