Meet and greet with rally star Paddon

By Hannah Norton

Rally fans will get the chance to get up close and personal with top Kiwi driver Hayden Paddon before he hits Northland roads in the International Rally of Whangarei.

He'll be making a flying visit to the Whangarei Telecom store ahead of the official ceremony today to kick off the weekend's race at Cameron Street Mall.

Paddon says he's looking forward to meeting and greeting fans, and will be available to have his photo taken and sign autographs for fans.

"It's literally a whirlwind stop to the Telecom store before I race off for final pre-rally preparations. I'm looking forward to meeting as many people as possible and thanking them for their support," he said.

There are two components in this weekend's International Rally of Whangarei event - the national championship component, and the Asia-Pacific championship contingent.

Paddon is currently the top seed in the national championship component event, while Finnish speedster Esapekka Lappi heads the 16-strong Asia-Pacific championship contingent.

Twenty-six-year-old Paddon only last week announced his planned return to the World Rally Championship in July 2013.

In 2011, he became the FIA Production World Rally Champion after winning the production category at Rally Australia - the first person in the Southern Hemisphere to win a world rally championship.

Paddon will be at the store in the Cameron Street Mall, 41 Cameron Street, between 3 and 4pm today. The International Rally of Whangarei ceremonial start and cultural welcome kicks off at 4.30pm at the Cameron Street Mall. For more event times and information, see our What's On guide on page A11.

- Northern Advocate

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