Paddon finishes year fourth overall
Geraldine's Hayden Paddon finished the Super 2000 World Rally Championship fourth overall after a fifth placed finish in the Rally de Espana.
Paddon had hoped to finish the season with a flourish but got stuck in the mud on day one, which put him in catch-up mode for the following two days.
Irishman Craig Breen won the title after staying ahead of his nearest rival PG Andersson of Sweden. Breen was rapt with his win.
"This is incredible, it's beyond my wildest dreams," said the 22-year-old, who resumed his driving career in the summer following the death of his co-driver Roberts on an accident on the Florio Rally in Sicily back in June.
''I really couldn't have done this without everybody's support and good wishes so I'd like to take this moment to thank each and everyone of you. It's the perfect attribute to Gareth too and I am so happy to have won this title for him."
MUD CATCHES PADDON
Hayden Paddon's final rally in the Super 2000 World Rally Championships has turned out like his season - a rollercoaster ride with both high and lows.
The 25-year-old Kiwi was caught out by the tricky conditions on day one at Rally de Espana, with heavy overnight rain making the stages slippery.
Paddon was one of a number forced into an early retirement after getting stuck in thick mud five kilometres into the third stage of the day, after a minor error. "The conditions were very tricky and with all of the overnight rain it just turned the roads into a mud bog.
"Mini WRC driver, Dani Sordo, was also stuck on the same corner as us, and we just couldn't get the car out despite still having three wheels on the road."
Fortunately his Skoda suffered no damage and he was able to rejoin the rally on Saturday, which turned out to be a much better day.
The Kiwi No 1 managed to win every stage in the Super 2000 category after road conditions improved, but he has no chance of winning the rally.
In his Skoda Fabia, Paddon impressed as he accumulated a significant leading margin of 108 seconds over second-placed Per-Gunnar Andersson for the day.
Irishman Craig Breen, however, looks set to take the overall title. He starts the final six stages 3m 19s ahead of Andersson, after the Swede dropped out of contention for victory with a broken driveshaft on the opening day.
Third overall in the championship and at the rally is Saudi Yazeed Al-Rajhi, who also restarted the rally after a turbo failure put him out on day one. Britain's Alastair Fisher holds fourth place ahead of Paddon in fifth.
- © Fairfax NZ News