Two of the heaviest hitters in domestic rallying have been announced for November’s Battle of Jacks Ridge rallysprint — Hayden Paddon and Jack Hawkeswood.
The pairing will take on the 3km sprint in AP4-based machinery, Paddon in his New Zealand Rally Championship title-winning Hyundai i20 and Hawkeswood in a Mazda2. In Paddon’s case, he will compete in the City of Auckland Rally in the days building up to the Jacks Ridge event, before converting his i20 into its more aggressive hill-climb specification overnight.
“This is going an amazing event and one I am really looking forward to,” Paddon said. “Andrew [Hawkeswood] has done an amazing job constructing a world class rally stage that will be a real test for drivers while giving spectators an amazing show.
“There are some technical bits that will put drivers to the test while the jumps will take some serious commitment and will be spectacular to watch.”
Despite the venue being named after him and it being situated on the property of his title-winning father, Andrew, Jack Hawkeswood isn’t classing himself as a shoe-in to challenge for supremacy.
“The only areas I have really driven on are the bits we’ve used for the media days. I haven’t actually done a full lap of the rally stage let alone the rally sprint stage,” he said.
“I will definitely be doing bits of it but it is really going to come down to how far we get actually finishing off the track and I will do a few laps of it so we can make sure the track is going to work alright. I don’t think I will have too much of an advantage over anyone else.”
The dual driver confirmations comes after Battle of Jacks Ridge organisers confirmed that the event would be televised live on Sky Sport — the first time in a long time that domestic rallying has received live coverage locally.
“For Sky to broadcast the event this way is a massive coup for the sport. From the moment we first spoke to them, Sky has been very supportive and has recognised what we can achieve together,” said Rally New Zealand Chairman Peter Johnston.
“The coverage will be world class and will give viewers the closest possible experience to be being there in person.”
The Battle of Jacks Ridge event takes place on November 15, 20 minutes from the Auckland CBD in Whitford. Tickets go on sale on September 27.