Paddon and Kennard fired up for the Otago Rally
The New Zealand Rally Championship gets underway in Dunedin this weekend (9-10 April) with the Otago Rally, and Kiwi rally star Hayden Paddon and co-driver John Kennard are fired up to better last year’s stage times and get their championship bid off to a strong start.
While he has five New Zealand Rally Championship titles to his credit, Paddon isn’t taking this year’s competition lightly with an array of top Kiwi competitors lining up in various AP4 and R5 cars for what’s expected to be a great season of national-level rallying. He knows that speed and consistency will be required to secure another NZRC title, with this domestic championship underpinning his preparation to return to European rallying later this year where he’ll compete in selected events of the 2022 FIA WRC2 Championship.
Paddon and Kennard have won the Otago Rally outright five years in a row, with their Hyundai i20 AP4 rally car featuring on four of these often record-breaking wins. Running under the Hyundai New Zealand Rally banner, the team has been busy with several new developments on the car. Following successful pre-event tests, Paddon is looking forward to seeing how the car performs in all-out competition as they tackle the 17 special stages and 276km of competitive rallying taking place over two days around Dunedin.
Paddon is always seeking to improve and this year he’ll be going after more stage records as a way of measuring his own performance. He’ll also value physical time in a rally car in competition as part of his preparation for Europe. While the Hyundai i20 AP4 is different to the Hyundai i20 N Rally2 car he’ll compete in Europe, seat-time is all important for future competition.
“We have targeted a few stage records this year, so will be really good to measure ourselves against earlier times to see how far we have progressed. No doubt there will be a lot of good competition which will step up this year, but my sole focus is doing the best job we can and trying to continuously to improve.
“We would love to win another title; that always the goal at the start of the season. It will need to be like previous years, not only speed but also consistency, so we are focused on winning that title.
“Any driving we can do before heading back to Europe will be good. It’s all about seat time and although the cars are different, there is no substitute.
“Our team have been quite busy over the last few months. We have made a lot of new developments on the car this year which I’m pretty excited about. As our competitors get faster, we also need to keep lifting our game, and this year is one of the biggest steps we have made in recent years.”
Alongside his NZRC campaign, Paddon and Hyundai New Zealand Rally have initiated a local community project, dubbed the Paddon Project, to support a deserving local in the region of each NZRC event. Thanks to the support of Paddon’s official partners, people in the rally regions can nominate a deserving local to win a prize pack including $2000 cash, a $500 Mitre 10 voucher and more. Entries for the Otago region closed on 4 April https://paddonrallysport.co.nz/paddons-project/ and the winner will be announced on 6 April with Paddon presenting the prize to the winner.
Paddon and Hyundai New Zealand Rally appreciate the support of Hyundai New Zealand, Mitre 10 Trade, Z Energy, Makita, Bailey Caravans, Ben Nevis Station, Winmax Brakes, Gravity Internet, Pak N’ Save, Bars Bugs, Pirelli, OMP/Racer Products, Mike Greer Homes, Bartercard, Accessman, Sign It Signs, Carters Tyre Service and Provident Insurance.
Keep up with news on Hayden Paddon and the Hyundai New Zealand Rally team via the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/paddonrallysport.