SWRC: Hayden Paddon Rally Sweden leg 1 summary

Hayden Paddon press release

Challenging start for Paddon in Rally Sweden

Hayden Paddon and Johnathan Kennard, Skoda Fabia S2000
Hayden Paddon and Johnathan Kennard, Skoda Fabia S2000

Photo by: Hayden Paddon Rallysport Global Ltd

Frustrating is one way Hayden Paddon described his first day of Rally Sweden. The Kiwi rally star started Friday’s nine stages third among the Super 2000 World Rally Championship contenders and, after going off in special stage three, finished the day sixth among his championship competition.

Paddon, from Geraldine and now based in Montgat, Spain, and Blenheim’s based co-driver John Kennard are contesting the first round of their SWRC campaign in Sweden from 10 to 12 February. It’s their first event in their new Skoda Fabia S2000 car, prepared by Spanish team ASM Motorsport, and also Paddon’s first event on snow.

Paddon is clearly learning with every passing stage, but his overall SWRC placing has clearly been affected by losing over seven minutes on stage three after hitting a snow bank.

“It’s been trying, but more frustrating that anything,” Paddon said. “Losing nearly eight minutes stuck in a snow bank and then a puncture this afternoon didn’t help. I’m struggling to feel at one with the car on what is a new surface, but this is getting better with each stage – things just haven’t quite gelled yet. Of course we keep learning with every passing stage and look to climb the SWRC leader-board over the next two days.”

Paddon’s times from the three stages that were repeated morning and afternoon showed his pace kept improving and, throughout the afternoon’s runs, he set the second and third fastest SWRC times on each of the four stages.

Having left the service park in Hagfors, Sweden, at their scheduled start time of 5:46am, Paddon and Kennard faced temperatures around -10ºC, described as being cold enough to guarantee full winter conditions, but not so cold to make the roads solid ice. Like many other competitors, Paddon uses a studded tyre from DMACK in order to drive on the snow and ice-covered roads. They contested seven of the day’s nine stages across the border in Norway, the first stage taking competitors right past the farm owned by Norwegian former world rally champion Petter Solberg.

Saturday’s eight stages are largely north of the rally headquarters in the Swedish city of Karlstad and include the classic stage ‘Vargasen’ which features the famous Colin’s Crest, named in memory of the late Colin McRae. The day includes two sprints around the Hagfors arena stage a short drive from the service park. On Sunday Paddon and Kennard have six further stages, including two runs on the 15.42 km Hagfors power stage on the outskirts of town.

Paddon holds 27th position overall in a field which contains 21 world rally cars. There are other competitors in S2000 cars like Paddon’s who aren’t registered for SWRC points, which can be a little confusing depending whether commentators are talking about the S2000 category or the S2000 championship.

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.

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Series WRC
Tags paddon, skoda