Hayden Paddon press release
Paddon charging in Portugal
Top Kiwi rally drivers Hayden Paddon and John Kennard have won every stages of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship category on day three of Rally Portugal to move from fourth into third in class by day’s end.
Despite Paddon’s own assessment that he’d made a less than ideal call on tyres, the two New Zealanders blitzed their SWRC opposition easily winning each of the 20-plus kilometre stages by a considerable margin over their competition. They also matched and bettered the times of a number of WRC competitors.
Paddon said: “We have had a better day today here in Portugal, moving up to third in SWRC and within sight of second. This morning started well as we were able to match some of Sebastian Ogier’s times. We did get a little caught out having hard tyres on the front of the car in damp conditions. Unfortunately I made a wrong tyre call in the afternoon too – but this time the other way around. Expecting the damp conditions from the morning, we went on the soft tyre compound option, but little did we know at the time, but the roads were 100% dry. Some other competitors also got caught out, but magnified by a puncture on the first stage, we completed the last stage tonight almost on slick tyres.”
After finishing Thursday night’s four stages with a 24.9 second lead over closest rival Irishman Craig Breen, who topped the SWRC leader-board coming into this event, Paddon managed only 1.5 kilometres of Friday’s first stage before an electrical fault stopped his progress.
Paddon’s ASM Motorsport engineers got the Skoda Fabia S2000 car repaired to allow Paddon to restart on Saturday under Rally 2 regulations (formerly called SupeRally). This meant that Paddon continued to receive stage times for the three stages which actually ran on Friday – this is calculated as the time set by the fastest competitor in the SWRC class plus five minutes. The final three Friday stages were cancelled due to treacherous conditions.
Despite more overnight rain, Saturday’s stages were in better condition than Friday’s with the first run through the repeated loop of three proving damp and muddy, but a strong breeze and patchy sunshine ensured they were fully dry for the afternoon’s run.
At the end of Saturday’s six stages, Saudi driver Yazeed Al Rajhi had a solid lead in the SWRC category – more than eight minutes over Fiesta driver Maciek Oleksowicz. Paddon finished the day 53.7 seconds behind Oleksowicz – a margin that the Kiwis should be able to overcome on Sunday. The competitors against whom Paddon is primarily judging his performance – Sebastian Ogier and Kevin Abbring driving similar Skodas run by Volkswagen – have had differing fortunes at this challenging Portuguese event. Ogier is currently eighth overall among the WRC cars – with Paddon while Abbring crashed during shakedown and has not competed.
On Sunday Paddon and Kennard have six further stages to run. The Kiwis will be thinking about the SWRC championship and fighting for maximum points.
“We are hoping that Sunday will be dry as we have run out of our soft tyre option. Not only are we hunting down second tomorrow, but I would also like to set some good times to challenge Sebastian Ogier. For us, it is great to have him there as a bench mark to give us someone to continue to strive for,” said Paddon.
Paddon’s 2012 campaign is supported by PlaceMakers, Giltrap Group, Skoda, Cameron Sea and Airfreight, Granger Design, Castrol, Raiseys, New Balance, Pope Print, Racetech, Chicane Racewear, Endless Brake Pads, 1 Group web design and Brita Safety.