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The ups and downs of motorsport - Hayden's latest update

JULY 25, 2022 










Hi guys, Hayden here to keep you up to speed with the Hyundai New Zealand Rally team’s 2022 campaign in New Zealand and Europe.

Since I last wrote, it’s been all go for the team.

I was really pleased to achieve our goal of winning the South Canterbury Rally, which was round 3 of the New Zealand Rally Championship in the middle of June. This made sure we’d done all we could to bank maximum championship points given we’ll be missing the fourth round in Hawke’s Bay on 23 July.

Immediately after the Timaru Rally, I was on the plane to meet up with my co-driver John Kennard in the Piedmont region of northern Italy where we competed in Rally di Alba the very next weekend. This tarmac rally is part of the competitive Tour European Rally (TER) Championship and it’s been about five years since I last competed on tarmac so we weren’t expecting too much. We were in a Hyundai i20 R5 run by Hyundai Motorsport Italy (HMI) who did a great job with the car for us. To finish first in the TER category and fourth overall, just 20 seconds behind the winner after nine special stages of tarmac competition was really pleasing.










Then we met up with half our team from New Zealand – John, Mike, Matt, Matt and Jack – in Latvia to take delivery of our brand-new Hyundai i20 N Rally2 car just three days before Rally Latvia which ran on the first weekend in July. It was a big push by Hyundai Motorsport to get the car built in time, so the first opportunity for me and John to sit in it was at shakedown.










Obviously, we’d normally do on a pre-event test, but the timing couldn’t be helped so we treated the Latvian rally as a test, trying different setups and gathering as much data as we could over the 12 special stages. 










We were pleased to show some pretty good speed throughout the two-day rally, setting several top three stage times in a field of 200+ cars and finishing sixth overall, despite the car not being set up the way I prefer. We regarded it a successful event despite the result not looking great on paper. We achieved everything we set out to do which was to learn the new car and have a base to work forward from. We had plenty of work to get the car setup for my driving style for Estonia and beyond, as the team set up our temporary base in Estonia.

With just seven days to get ready for the Estonian Rally2 round, the team got stuck into our usual pre-rally prep and changing the setup of many components. We still looked at Estonia as a test rally where we focus on ourselves to make sure we took positive steps forward with the feeling with the car and competitiveness. 

Unfortunately I started feeling unwell on Thursday night and while we managed sixth fastest in the WRC2 category on Friday morning, I was feeling quite ill and couldn’t focus at all on driving the stages, meaning we had to withdraw from Rally Estonia. Gutted is an understatement, but there no option once I tested positive for Covid at Friday’s midday service. A big thanks to Hyundai NZ and all my sponsors for the understanding of this situation which is so incredibly poor timing, especially after dodging Covid for the past two years. We will now focus on full health and recovery to give Rally Finland a good nudge in early August.

Until next time, stay safe






Check out the Hyundai New Zealand Rally 2022 Competition Calendar 

Don't miss a moment - lock these dates in and follow Hayden's progress at home and off shore this year. 


Image credit: Jack Smith/Hyundai New Zealand Rally



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