Motorsport: Paddon keen to reclaim lead

Hayden Paddon and John Kennard preparing for Wales Rally GB this week. Photo - NZWRT/Katie Lane.
Hayden Paddon and John Kennard preparing for Wales Rally GB this week. Photo - NZWRT/Katie Lane.

New Zealand world champion rally drivers Hayden Paddon and John Kennard are used to leading the pack, and the pair hope they can reclaim the lead in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship when Wales Rally GB gets underway tonight.

Paddon dropped points at last month's Rally Finland because of mechanical issues but is just six points behind Swedish driver Per-Gunnar Andersson with three rounds remaining.

This weekend's event in Wales offers Paddon a good chance to make up ground. It will be on gravel, his favourite surface, and he said his Skoda Fabia was feeling good after getting back behind the wheel for the first time since Rally Finland at the beginning of August.

"The feeling in the car came very quickly and we didn't have to make any changes to the car. So it was just a matter of some time in the seat.

"Everything is looking good for the rally ... One of the biggest challenges though will be tyre choice - we have two options, hard or soft - and predicting the weather conditions."

Paddon won last year's production class world championships and has his sights on another title. After Wales, competition heads to France in October and Spain in November.

"Our preparations for Rally GB have gone well this week and we're now really looking forward to getting into the rally. After arriving here in Wales on Monday , we have had two days of recce to get our pace notes sorted for the rally. We have notes for about half the stages while the other stages are similar to what we have done in the past but just in a different configuration.

"I have never seen the stages here in such good condition and with the warmer weather that they have had here recently, the roads are a lot harder based but also a lot smoother; very similar to parts of the forestry stages that we find at Otago Rally. The road condition combined with the fast nature of the roads should suit us very well."

The rally is based in Cardiff with three days and 324.46km of competitive stages and more than 1200km of touring stages in a rally route which covers Wales from north to south.

- APNZ

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