Stage wins boost Paddon at Wales Rally GB
Story by: Hayden Paddon Rallysport Global Ltd - Photo by: Honza Froněk
New Zealanders Hayden Paddon and John Kennard won four of the seven stages in their FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship category on day two of Wales Rally GB.
The fact they finished all seven stages was another boost for the top-class Kiwi pairing after having to retire partway through the first day with electrical and gearbox issues.
With the Skoda repaired overnight, Paddon says Saturday’s first stage went well.
“We set a good time that was just over a second behind Sébastien Ogier,” says Paddon regarding his time of 11:14.2 for the 19.5 kilometre Crychan stage, which was over eight seconds faster than his closest SWRC competitor P-G Andersson who also restarted the rally after breaking a wheel on day one.
Paddon went on to win the SWRC category in each of the next three stages. With a deficit of over 20 minutes to overnight class leader Craig Breen that he’d unlikely to be able to redress, Paddon was focussed on demonstrating his overall speed against his personal benchmark, Ogier, the French star who drives a similar Skoda Fabia S2000 car. While his pace put him at or near the top of the SWRC competitors all day, Paddon wasn’t able to set times as close to Ogier’s as he’d have liked.
“Unfortunately that was as close to him [Ogier] that we got for the rest of the day, as we were struggling for a bit of confidence in the car in the bumpier sections. In these sections, the front of the car would keep jumping out of line. We made some changes at midday service to try and improve this, but unfortunately the changes did not work. When the surface is smooth, the car is perfect; it’s just some of the other areas that we need to keep working on,” said Paddon from the Saturday evening [UK time] service in Cardiff.
Paddon’s consistent run on Saturday’s seven stages saw him regularly set stage times ranking him around 15th overall
“Tomorrow’s stages will suit us better, and are more similar to the first stage this morning and yesterday’s stages, which worked well with our car. We have reversed the changes from this afternoon and hope to pick up where we left off earlier today.
“Of course we are always trying and we are always learning. This is great seat time, as our time in the car has been fairly limited recently, so it is good to get some solid competitive miles under our belt.”
While Paddon is out of contention for a podium position at this event – unless something happens to the frontrunners during Sunday’s six special stages – he’s still in with a chance to take out the championship which has two rounds to go in France and Spain in October and November respectively.
Paddon’s New Zealand World Rally Team is supported by PlaceMakers, Giltrap Group, Skoda, Z Energy, ENZED, ATEED, GO Rentals, Cameron Sea and Airfreight, Granger Design, Raiseys, New Balance, Pope Print, Racetech, Chicane Racewear, Endless Brake Pads, 1 Group web design, Brita Safety, Rally Tours, MAK-Corp, EPS International, Saddle Hill Quarries, Monit Rally Computers, Bluebridge Ferries, Stadium Finance, and Ewing Engineering Contractors