He was favourite ahead of the event but Kiwi rally start Hayden Paddon still didn't have it all his own way as he raced to his seventh International Rally of Whangārei title at the weekend.
Paddon led for much of the three-day event in his electric Hyundai i20, which wound its way around the back roads - and even within the city - of Whangārei.
Even a final-stage puncture couldn't prevent Paddon from winning the International Rally of Whangārei, presented by Mark Cromie Motor Group on Sunday.
The former World Rally Championship star cruised to victory by four minutes and nine seconds, despite dropping three minutes on the final stage to change a puncture in his Hyundai NZ i20 AP4.
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It backs up Paddon's dominant win at the opening round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship at Otago last month.
Ben Hunt finished second to celebrate his birthday in his Hydraulink Subaru WRX STI while Raana Horan was third – a further minute and 53 seconds back in his Generator Rental Services Skoda Fabia R5.
It was Paddon's seventh title in Whangārei, after successes in 2007, 2009, 2010, 2013, 2018 and 2019 - the last time the rally was held here after the 2020 event was cancelled due to the Covid lockdown.
The event doubled as the second round of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship and Paddon has now extended his lead in the championship after two rounds and two wins. He has 88 points, well ahead of Marston in second with 41.
For the freshly-turned 34-year-old Hunt, it felt like redemption after he was unable to finish the second day of the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) in Otago last month.
"It's good fun to go rallying on your birthday. Tony (Rawstorn, co-driver) and I have had a couple of awesome days' rallying. It's been heaps of fun and the Subaru went fantastically," he said.
The NZRC moves to South Canterbury for round three in late June.