Hayden Paddon, Brendon Hartley, and Shane van Gisbergen were last week announced as three of the twelve nominees for the Halberg Awards’ New Zealand Sportsman of the Year award.
Four-time WMX Motocross World Champion Courtney Duncan is also nominated for Sportswoman of the Year.
All have had standout seasons, achieving success in their respective disciplines around the world.
Paddon, along with co-driver John Kennard, made history as the first non-European driver to win the renowned European Rally Championship in its 70-year history in August.
The duo won the opening Rally Serras de Fafe in Portugal before finishing as runner-up in Rally Islas Canarias, Rally Poland, Rally Liepaja and the Royal Rally of Scandinavia. A third-placed finish in Rally di Roma Capitale put the duo on the path to success, which came at Czech Rally Zlin despite failing to finish.
Paddon also won his seventh New Zealand Rally Championship and pipped local driver Dane Skeete by 2.2 seconds to claim June’s Rally Barbados.
Hartley was the victor of his fourth World Endurance Championship, competing for Toyota Gazoo Racing alongside Sebastien Buemi and Ryo Hirakawa. The trio achieved overall wins in the 6 Hours of Portimao and 8 Hours of Bahrain, in addition to finishing as runner-up in the 1000 Miles of Sebring, 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, 6 Hours of Fuji and the iconic 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The 6 Hours of Monza was the only event on the 2023 schedule where they failed to finish outside the top two.
While van Gisbergen was ultimately pipped at the post for the Supercars title by Brodie Kostecki, the NASCAR-bound driver featured on the podium 11 times from 28 starts, taking five race wins along the way. Van Gisbergen won his third Bathurst 1000 with Richie Stanaway in October.
In July, the 34-year-old also made history in NASCAR on the Chicago Street Course, becoming the first debut winner in over 60 years. Despite battling illness, he also achieved a top 10 result on the Indianapolis Road Course and was 19th on his oval debut in the Truck Series just days prior.
Van Gisbergen’s successes continued off the track, finishing second in Rally Bay of Plenty and the Daybreaker Rally.
Drivers made up 25 per cent of nominations for the Sportsman of the Year Award, with no other code featuring more than once.
While rugby union has been a dominant force in the awards since their inception 60 years ago, only one All Black, Ardie Savea, has received a nomination. Rugby League star Shaun Johnson is also nominated.
Other nominees for Sportsman of the Year include Aaron Gate (Cycling), Marko Stamenić (football), Paul Coll (squash), Rachin Ravindra (cricket), Ryan Fox (golf), Sam Gaze (mountain biking) and Tom Walsh (Athletics).
The 61st Halberg Awards ceremony takes place on February 14, 2024, at Spark Arena in Auckland.
Header Image: European Rally Championship