Paddon says Rally NZ isn’t lost yet

However, Covid-19 lead to the cancellation of the event this month.

In a further blow, Rally New Zealand was not included in a provisional 2021 WRC calendar published by the FIA on June 20 – with Rally Australia making a comeback instead.

However, Paddon said it was too early to rule out a return of the WRC to Auckland next year.

“There is all sorts of things that could happen and I think it is too early to say New Zealand is or isn’t on the calendar,” Paddon said.

“The train of thought from the New Zealand perspective was what we had this year lined up could pretty much be pushed out a year, the event was ready, the roads were ready, the organisation was ready, it was just a matter of a delay in the process.

“Meanwhile, Australia don’t really have a rally at the moment, they know they can’t go back to Coffs Harbour where they have been in the past so they’ve got to go out and start a rally from scratch again so I thought New Zealand was ahead in that respect. What else is going on behind the scenes who knows.”

Paddon said Covid-19 border controls could lead to more international rally events in this part of the world.

“There is an off chance with the way quarantine is working around the world, and maybe it might be a long-term thing, that a New Zealand and Australian back-to-back rally could work with quarantine rules.”

Two new events in November will allow rally drivers to take on the stages that were planned for the Auckland WRC event.

The City of Auckland Rally will be held on Saturday 14 November and include stages in the Kaipara Hills, Puhoi and Riverhead Forest before its conclusion at the purpose-built road Jack’s Ridge in Whitford.

The Battle of Jack’s Ridge will be a standalone rally sprint on Sunday 15 November which will feature an open category rally sprint over a section of the 6.2km Jack’s Ridge stage.

Paddon has committed to taking part in the two events as he works to get back racing.

“We’ve got itchy feet at the moment given that we haven’t been able to do much competition over the last few months so we are eager to get out there and do whatever we can.”

However, competing in both events will require some fast mechanic work for Paddon’s team.

“It’s quite a unique challenge for us, often when we go away to events we do a rally or a hill climb, this particular event you’ve got a rally on one day and a hill climb on another so it means we’ve got to convert our car overnight from a 300 horsepower rally car to a 700 horsepower hill climb machine so it means it will be a big night for the boys on the Saturday night but a challenge that we quite look forward to.”