Hayden Paddon press release
No let-up for Paddon, PWRC champ, at WRC Spain
Hayden Paddon is New Zealand’s first-ever world rally champion, but there’s no let-up for the 24-year-old as he heads to Rally de Espana which runs from 20 to 23 October.
The Geraldine-based world champion still has much to prove on the tarmac and gravel mixed surface Spanish World Rally Championship event as he strives to secure funding and opportunities to further his international rallying career.
“John [Kennard, Paddon’s Blenheim-based co-driver] and I haven’t contested Rally Spain before, which is our second-to-last WRC event for this season. I was a spectator there last year and know the tarmac stages are more like a series of race tracks!” says Paddon from the service park in the town of Salou on the Mediterranean coast between Barcelona and Valencia. “In fact, this event is unique in that we run one day on a mix of gravel and tarmac and two days on all tarmac stages, so that’s challenging in terms of my driving style and what our team, Symtech Racing, needs to do in setting up our Subaru rally car.”
Paddon says he’s done no competitive time on tarmac stages since Rally France twelve months ago. “But we had an opportunity to test on tarmac in Belgium with the team last week and it seemed a bit foreign at first, but as the day progressed, I got more and more confidence. It was excellent to have the chance to learn more about setting the car up for tarmac – some trial and error to see what worked and what didn’t and we made some good improvements to the car ready for Spain.”
After winning the Production World Rally Championship title in Australia in September, Paddon headed back to Europe for the 29 September to 2 October running of Rally France where he was helped American star Ken Block with his stage notes.
“It was great to be involved with Ken’s world rally team for a short time and I really enjoyed it. It was also great to further familiarise ourselves with the French roads – excellent for next year – and I also learned a lot about the notes that only WRC teams receive for tarmac events which highlight how the roads change between each pass. This knowledge will certainly help John and me heading into Spain.”
Paddon says he’s still going all out to win again in Spain after winning the PWRC class of all four events he’s contested this year, a history-making feat which secured the Kiwi the PWRC title with two rounds in-hand.
“We will try and win, but there are plenty of unknowns around what our fellow production category competitors are like on tarmac. This is the only tarmac event on the PWRC calendar this year, and along with the usual quick contenders like Patrik Flodin, Martin Semerád and Michal Kościuszko, there are some fast Spanish drivers. However, our pace was good on tarmac in France and Germany last year so we will push hard to improve on that.”
Paddon has also been working hard on furthering opportunities for competing in the 2012 World Rally Championship. “We have been trying really hard to secure plans for next year. There are certainly several opportunities out there and we are currently trying to put the budget together. We hope to announce our plans before the end of the year, and in the meantime, we have both Rally Spain and Rally Great Britain to contest so right now, it’s time to focus on driving!”
In Spain, Paddon and Kennard complete reconnaissance of the rally stages on Tuesday and Wednesday before Thursday’s full-speed official shakedown run. In the rally itself, they tackle 18 special stages over a competitive distance of 406.52 kilometres inland of Salou, comprising six stages on each of the three days from Friday to Sunday. The PortAventura theme park near Salou’s port hosts the rally headquarters and service park where Paddon and the New Zealand World Rally Team are based.
As well as counting as the twelfth round of the 13-event WRC season, RallyRACC-Rally de Espana is the final event of the Super 2000 World Rally Championship and the penultimate round of the Production Car World Rally Championship.
Paddon extends his thanks to all his team, his many supporters around New Zealand and across the world and his valued financial partners, which include Subaru New Zealand, EDL Fasteners, CR Properties, Placemakers, Milwaukee, Racetech Seats, Castrol, Dunlop, Radio Sport, Radio Hauraki, Camerons Sea and Air Freight, Endless brakes, In-tune Automotive, All About Signs, Total Automotive, Reaction Racing, Raiseys Sport Nutrition, Chicane Racewear, RallyTours, Alto Lab, Pope Print, Granger Design, Bluebridge Ferry, 1 Group and Symtech Racing.