There was a significant "Hayden Paddon effect" behind Mount Maunganui rally driver David Holder's first New Zealand Rally win at the weekend.

Holder won the second round of the national championship, the Rally of Whangarei, in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 that Paddon, now a World Rally Championship (WRC) star, drove to victory at the event nine years ago. Like Holder now, the win was Paddon's first in the national championship.

But the influence goes a lot deeper.

"I did my first year at national level in the (Toyota) Levin, and he saw some in-car footage of me on the internet and got in touch," said Holder, 27. "Basically he wanted to help out somebody with whatever he could and from then on he's been kind of the mentor and I've been the protege.


"More recently he's helped more people, but he's always helped me - he helped get me into his old car and with talking to the right people."

Paddon had returned home to compete in the first two rounds of this year's New Zealand series.

"Nowadays a lot of it's email with him overseas, but on these last two rallies with him at the rally he's dropped a few hints between stages."

Paddon won the opening round of the New Zealand series in Otago, but a driveshaft issue on day one put paid to a repeat at Whangarei, although the car was repaired and he blitzed the field on day two.

There was unfinished business for Holder in Whangarei, after a big crash while leading last year's event.

"I went round the same corner this year and I said 'not this year mate'.

"I've always had such good pace up there, and it's such a great rally, but they are really technical roads, so I've had a few dramas in the past. With the camber changes on the road you literally can be jumping from one corner into the next."

Holder now sits on top of the New Zealand Rally Championship standings on 64 points. Paddon, who won't compete in the whole series, is second on 44, Richard Baddock has 36 and Ben Hunt is fourth on 33.

Holder is now hoping to get enough money together to compete in the third round, Rally Canterbury, on June 5.

"Because we've been struggling to get the support to do the whole championship, we tossed up missing Canterbury - and it's obviously still an option if we don't get the money to go there. But to alleviate the pressure later in the season, bearing in mind the goal is the championship, we are hoping to get to Canterbury."

The first win at the weekend, said Holder, was probably more significant in its effect on his supporters.

"It was cool, definitely, but probably more so for the whole team - all the people who have helped out and all the people that have got us there - that made it special."

It was also co-driver Jason Farmer's first outright rally win in 23 years of co-driving.

Holder grew up on a farm and followed his brother, James' footsteps into rallying.

"He stepped aside from it and I was old enough to buy a rally car. I bought his old car and worked my way through the ranks."

He has been in the sport for five years, one year at club level in the Levin, then at national level.

"I got a new car each year until I got the Evo - the Evo isn't my car, it's owned by Stadium Finance."

He started out on the South Island but moved to the Bay of Plenty purely to chase his rallying dreams.