Hayden Paddon ready to rip up Wales gravel
The mechanical failure that scuppered Hayden Paddon's run at Rally Finland last month has been fixed and the Kiwi ace is confident of getting his Super 2000 championship campaign back on track in Wales this weekend.
Paddon lost his lead in the S2000 class after a "very rare" problem - inlet valve failure - in Finland, but he sits only six points behind the leader, Sweden's Per-Gunner Andersson, heading into Wales Rally GB.
Chasing a second world championship in two years, having won the production class last year, Paddon has high hopes in what will be the last gravel event of the year, his preferred surface.
After Wales, there will be two rounds remaining, in France next month and Spain in November. But he is conscious of the need to make a big move this week.
"There is still a long way to go in the championship," he said.
"P-G and UK local Craig Breen (who is third) are our main rivals and will be fast here. Maximum points is the only option to put us in a good position for the final two events.
"This is our last gravel event of the year and we have yet to show the speed that we want, so this is our last chance."
Paddon and co-driver John Kennard, who have settled into the UK base at Northampton for the remainder of the season, switched support teams mid-season and met up with their new Austria-based team, BRR, last weekend.
"We haven't been able to do an independent test before this event due to budget constraints so it's straight into the rally, but that's not really an issue," Paddon said.
"John and I have done this event three times and it's one that I enjoy. Also, BRR has had some good experience of this event and a good base set-up at Skoda.
"We made some small changes to the car from Finland from my initial feelings."
Paddon said the forestry roads were fast and similar to New Zealand and, with dry conditions, should suit the Kiwis in their Skoda Fabia 2000.
One of their biggest challenges would be tyre choice - hard or soft - and predicting the Welsh weather conditions.
The ceremonial start takes place tonight with full racing on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights (NZT).
- © Fairfax NZ News
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