Hayden Paddon completed the perfect build-up for his return to the World Rally Championship with victory in the National Rally of Whangarei.

Run concurrently with the International Rally of Whangarei, the national event provided the top seven times.

Paddon and co-driver Malcolm Peden finished with an overall time of 2:45:04.4, more than seven minutes ahead of nearest rival Ben Hunt and co-driver Tony Rawstorn who finished in 2:52:30.7.

He said he was happy with how the car went over the weekend, particularly on Saturday.


"Huge credit to the team who did an amazing job throughout the whole weekend and to Mal Peden who did a great job in the car for the first time," he said.

"It was also really good to see a lot of spectators out on the stages today on what are some magic rally roads.

"We were trying to look after the tyres on Saturday afternoon and manage the through the stages with them. Everything went according to plan.

"We chose to take four tyres on Saturday afternoon even though six [with two spares] was the better option. Overseas we struggle with managing tyres and driving with worn tyres so we just wanted to practice that.

"I was pretty pleased with how it went and some good lessons for our return to WRC."

Paddon added the 2018 crown to his titles won in 2007, 2009 and 2010.

Australian Nathan Quinn completed the podium with a time of 2:53:35.3 while Kiwi Emma Gilmour finished fourth in 2:54:09.5.

The rally had some tense moments with Shamrock Motorsport drivers Richie Dalton and Dale Muscatt having their race ended prematurely on special stage three at Riponui.


Their Ford Fiesta found a ditch during the stage as fog affected their vision.

"We got caught out in the thick fog," Dalton said.

"Coming from a 350m straight into a third-gear right-hand corner, we braked for it but the bend was on top of us earlier than I expected.

"I knew we weren't going to make it so I pointed for the open gate into the paddock on the left side and it looked like we had got away with it.

"But there was a metre-deep ditch on the left side covered with grass. Needless to say, it stopped us very quickly."

Dalton said he and Muscatt were a bit sore but the safety gear did its job and the car withstood the stop really well.