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Paddon shares ERC points’ lead after Sweden

Hayden Paddon and John Kennard finished a hard-fought third in the Royal Rally of Scandinavia, which ran 14 to 16 June as the third round of the 2024 FIA European Rally Championship (ERC). Both New Zealanders are now first equal in the drivers’ and co-drivers’ championship points.

The Kiwi rally stars achieved their goal of a podium finish in the BRC Racing Hyundai i20 Rally2, but having won three special stages on the super fast Swedish gravel roads and held a close second place to eventual rally winner Oliver Solberg, Paddon was particularly frustrated by another final stage puncture which dropped them down to third overall.

“Obviously it’s good to be back on the podium,” says Paddon, “but it’s a missed opportunity to not get bonus points on the power stage. Nevertheless, we’re pleased to back in the lead of the championship, first equal with Mathieu Franceschi. It feels like a pretty challenging start to the year, but we’ve certainly got plenty of good things to build on when we head to the next ERC round in Estonia in July.”

During recce and qualifying earlier in the week Paddon described the stages as looking amazing. The rally commenced with a 2.23km super special stage in Karlstad on Thursday evening which Paddon won by 0.3 seconds from Mads Ostberg.

Friday’s eight stages were fast with lots of time in fifth gear and speeds of over 140 km/h, and slightly rougher conditions in the afternoon which Paddon said didn’t suit the Hyundai as well as the morning’s smoother roads. Nonetheless he was happy to finish the day in second just 3.3 seconds away from Solberg in the lead.

Eight more stages on Saturday brought more intensive pressure from other frontrunners and Paddon tried hard to counter Solberg’s pace. He kept his focus on consolidating second place with the goal of adding some power stage points in the final stage, which unfortunately didn’t come to fruition due to the puncture.

“While it could have been better, it also could have been worse and there are still plenty of positives from the weekend and some progress with the car. Now, I head home to contest the Southern Lights Rally in Invercargill on 22 June.”

Paddon Racing Group appreciates the support of Hyundai New Zealand, Mitre 10 Trade, Z Energy, Valvoline, Makita, Bars Bugs, Pirelli, OMP/Racer Products, Winmax Brake Pads, South Canterbury Road Safety, TrailLite, Repco NZ, Stedi, Highlands Motorsport Park, MITO, Machinery House, Design Windows, Bartercard, Mike Greer Homes, Provident Insurance, King Gee Clothing and Signbiz.

Keep up with Hayden Paddon’s news via the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/paddonracinggroup.

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