New Zealand rally duo of Hayden Paddon and co-driver John Kennard held off a late challenge from defending WRC champion Sebastien Ogier to seal victory in Argentina over night.

Paddon had to contend with gearbox dramas on the final day that allowed Ogier to destroy the Kiwis' near half-minute lead to just 2.6 seconds with only the power stage to go.

Read more: 10 things you didn't know about Hayden Paddon.

Not to be kept from his maiden WRC rally win, Paddon threw everything he had at the legendary El Condor test and flew down the mountain in an incredible feat of car control to win the stage by a whopping 11.2 seconds.


"That was a pretty amazing result that went down to the wire," Paddon told the Herald after the race.

"The biggest improvement has been our consistency and that helped a lot this weekend.

We were consistently inside the top three all weekend and that was the key; as well as getting a few stage wins along the way."

Paddon's first WRC round win didn't come without a last minute hiccup though. Gear change problems caused him stall the car twice early on the final day. With his lead cut to just over two seconds Paddon knew he had to throw caution to the wind to keep Ogier behind him.

"It wasn't a huge problem [gear change] and we lost four or five seconds on the first stage. However, Seb [Ogier] took a lot out of us in the middle stage and so it was very close for the final stage.

"I didn't really believe two seconds was enough for that stage [El Condor], which has never really suited me in the past. I didn't think we had enough so I just forgot about it and drove the stage on my life.

"I gave it everything and it was really rough. Normally you take it a bit easier so the car doesn't get damaged but not this time. I was very, very hungry for the win so forgot about the rocks and ruts and gave it everything. I didn't care about the acr - I just wanted the win," said Paddon.

In winning Rally Argentina Paddon and Kennard became the first New Zealanders and only the second pair from the Southern Hemisphere to win a WRC round in the 43 years the championship has been running. They also put a halt to Volkswagen's run of 13 consecutive victories.

"It definitely hasn't sunk in yet. Obviously we've always believed we could win a WRC round but certainly not this one and this early in the season. The work has got to continue because one [win] is not enough and the idea is to get a lot more.

"We're all absolutely over the moon and being second in the championship is a bonus. We have to stay realistic though and we still have work to do. We're to stick to our goals for this year and winning the championship isn't one for this year. That's next year's goal.

"We certainly can't expect wins all the time and in equal conditions Seb is still the fastest driver there is and he's the one we have to catch," he said.

Paddon and Kennard are back n New Zealand next weekend for the International Rally of Whangarei before heading back to Europe for Rally Portugal, May 19-22.

The Kiwis now sit second n the championship 39 points behind Ogier and five ahead of Mads Ostberg.

WRC points after four rounds
1. Sebastien Ogier 96
2. Hayden Paddon 57
3. Mads Ostberg 52
3. Andreas Mikkelsen 48
5. Dani Sordo 44