Hayden Paddon press release
Paddon overcomes problems to keep narrow PWRC lead at Rally Australia
Kiwi rally driver Hayden Paddon overcame mechanical issues with his CR Properties/Placemakers Subaru STI during day two of Rally Australia, losing then fighting back to hold a narrow lead in the Production World Rally Championship category after day two.
Overnight Paddon, with co-driver John Kennard, from Geraldine and Blenheim respectively, held a margin of just 2.9s over Polish driver Michel Kosciuszko.
In contrast to Friday’s wet and muddy conditions, blue skies, dry weather and heavily-gravelled roads greeted the crews on Saturday morning.
Paddon said: “Day two of Rally Australia has been a tough day for us but yet successful.
“We started the day with a 1m, 22s lead, but by the end of the day we have just a 3s lead after a few dramas...
“Saturday’s first stage started well until 3km from the end when the turbo pipe blew off and we lost all power. We tried to make roadside repairs between each of the remaining three stages before service, but to no avail. We lost over two minutes to Michel, who took the PWRC class lead, and arrived back at service over 50 seconds behind him. With repairs made, we attacked on the repeated afternoon stages.”
Stage times highlight Paddon’s determined fight-back. Coming from 49.6s down on Kosciuszko after the morning’s final stage, SS14, Paddon won the 21.1km SS15 and reduced the margin to Kosciuszko to 34.2s. On the 19.77km SS16, Paddon again set the quickest PWRC time despite accidentally running over a wallaby; margin to Kosciuszko now 24.6s.
Two rural stages to go, Paddon commented: “We’ve been trying to push while keeping an eye on the temperature. We’ve not actually been able to open the bonnet to check because the impact pushed the radiator support panel back so we’ve been quite lucky to get through.”
Paddon again sets the quickest time on the 14.84km SS17, reducing the margin to Kosciuszko 9.2s, and on the final 13.79km run through SS18, Paddon was back in the category lead with a 1s lead over Kosciuszko.
Returning to Coffs Harbour for the harbour-side tarmac super special stage without the opportunity for his team to check the car, Paddon continued to push and further extended the lead over Kosciuszko to secure the narrow overnight margin of 2.9s.
“Sunday is a very important day on tricky stages – they are a lot more technical and twisty and not really to my liking. We will have a battle on our hands, but we will push hard to build a lead on the morning’s three-stage loop. Our team have done a great job and have been able to fully repair the car for Sunday’s final day.
“We’ve got a supporter tour group of 70 people here so it will be nice to bring the championship home to them,” said Paddon. “But we’re back to square one with the lead and tomorrow is a long and difficult day.”
If Paddon is still leading at the finish in Coffs Harbour on Sunday afternoon then he will be crowned the provisional PWRC champion for 2011.
Kosciuszko was quoted as saying: “He [Paddon] drove the perfect rally and deserves to win.”
Sunday’s action gets underway at 6.56am (Australian Eastern Standard Time) and Paddon and Kennard face 98.82km of competitive stages north of Coffs Harbour in the shire of Clarence Valley.