Paddon after winning finale

STU PIDDINGTON
Last updated 05:00 07/11/2012
Hayden Paddon
Getty Images
WILL RACE: Hayden Paddon will compete in Rally Spain.

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Hayden Paddon is set to tackle his final international event of the 2012 season when Rally Catalunya starts in Spain on Friday.

While his chances of winning a second world rally championship title in two years disappeared in France, Paddon remains focused on demonstrating his pace and talents to those who make key decisions in the ultra-competitive environment of world rallying.

"To win our category, the Super 2000 World Rally Championship class, in Spain would be great."

The 25-year-old was also buoyed by the support of Red Bull for the one-off event.

Baumschlager Rallye & Racing team manager Raimund Baumschlager has a well-established connection with Red Bull and was pivotal in helping Paddon establish a relationship with the brand.

"This year has been about illustrating our speed and we need to lift it to another notch.

"It has been an incredibly difficult season, certainly one of the most frustrating ones that I've ever had. But that's part of the sport and we have learnt a lot."

On the positive side Paddon has been the fastest SWRC competitor on every rally and won more than double the stages of his competitors, apart from Sweden.

"So there are definitely some positives to take from our performances this season."

Paddon said a good result in Spain "will certainly help us go into next year with a lot of confidence, and we will be putting much of this season behind us".

BRR had been working hard developing new setups for the Skoda Fabia, which were working well, he said.

"I'm excited to be back in the car and also thinking about future opportunities."

Based in Salou, the Spanish event is run on roads to the west of the coastal city.

The first day, Friday December 7, utilises a challenging mix of gravel and asphalt, followed by two days of asphalt stages and a total of 405.46 competitive kilometres.

Paddon said basically he viewed the rally as two separate events.

"The gravel section will be good as this is my favoured surface, but the change over to tarmac on Saturday morning will be critical, and requires a seamless adaptation into a smooth, non-aggressive driving style to best tackle it. This is where a lot of time could be gained."

The official Hayden Paddon World Rally Team tour group is travelling to Spain to support Paddon and co-driver John Kennard in their season finale and Paddon is looking forward to another boost of enthusiasm he's sure to enjoy from the group's presence.

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"We are all staying in the same hotel, so we'll eat with the group as much as we can and generally welcome them as part of the team.

"It is amazing the support we have for this event and the amount of people travelling from New Zealand. Hopefully we can give them the result to cheer for."

Following Rally Spain, Paddon returns to New Zealand to work on competition plans for 2013 and he will also be conducting two tuition courses to help fellow drivers.

- The Timaru Herald

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