Motorsport: Paddon hangs on to second

By Eric Thompson

Paddon's run of bad luck continued in Wales. Photo / Honza Fronek
Paddon's run of bad luck continued in Wales. Photo / Honza Fronek

New Zealand rally team Hayden Paddon and co-driver John Kennard must be looking skyward in an effort to find which of the mechanical gods they have royally peed off.

For the third time this season, the fastest pair in the FIA WRC S2000 class, and last year's PWRC world champions have had their weekend blighted by mechanical issues.

Paddon and Kennard again started a rally well, this time the Wales Rally Great Britain, setting some of the fastest times in the class only for something to let go in the car.

The same thing, not mechanically, happened in Finland a few weeks ago causing Paddon to sit out the rally after a valve malfunctioned leaving them with nil pois for the weekend allowing PG Andersson to leap into the championship lead.

Paddon had the rest of the field at his mercy early in the British rally when an electric failure caused the car to grind to a halt. Resetting everything on board allowed them to get going again only for the gearbox to spit a couple of teeth.

Paddon was able to re-join the rally the next day but was in no position to challenge for the outright lead. The pair won four of the seven stages on day two of the rally, and the best news was they finished all seven stages.

"We set a good time that was just over a second behind Sebastien Ogier," said Paddon. "We were also over eight seconds faster than PG Andersson who also restarted the rally after breaking a wheel on day one."

Things stayed on an even keel on the third and final day where Paddon and Kennard cleaned up four of the six stages to finish the rally still in second place in the championship.

Rallye de France Alsace is next up in three weeks time, October 4-7, and is an all-asphalt event.

"This coming week we have our first drive of a Super 2000 car on tarmac, as I go to Austria to test with the team ahead of Rally France.

"It has been a very challenging year to date, but it's not from lack of trying. There is a lot of hard work going on in the background and I will go back to the drawing board, break down all the details so that we can learn from it and turn our season around.

"A win is a must, but in saying that, first and foremost, we also need to concentrate on having a trouble-free rally in France."

V8 Supercars hots up

Ford Performance Racing driver Mark Winterbottom (paired with Steven Richards) put the pass of the day on V8 Supercars series' leader Jamie Whincup (Paul Dumbrell) to finish second at the Sandown 500, behind TeamVodafone driver Craig Lowndes (Warren Luff), who is now well and truly in the race for the title.

Just 119 points cover Whincup, Winterbottom and Lowndes in the championship heading into the Bathurst 1000 from October 4-7, with Will Davison now a further 117 points back from the battling trio. It's the closest ever margin between three championship contenders heading into the annual long distance classic.

Kiwi Shane van Gisbergen (Luke Youldon) gave his Stone Brothers Racing crew something to cheer when he achieved his first pole. The pair took the fight all the way to the leading bunch, which included Garth Tander (Nick Percat), to finish fifth and remain fifth in the championship 354 points behind Davison.

"The team hasn't had a pole position for such a long time it was great to start up the front this time. This was one weekend where we were fast and now we need to keep doing that every week," said van Gisbergen.

"We ended up fifth overall. It was the second highest points of the weekend so that was good, and we are competitive again."

Dixon finishes third

IndyCar driver Scott Dixon had one of his toughest years since 2005 but still muscled his way into third place in the championship behind Will Power and 2012 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay.

The Kiwi driver had the full set of crashes, mechanical failure, grid penalty, tyre trouble and wrong tactical calls during the season to stay focused and finish third in the last race of the season at Fontana, California. He is one of the most consistent IndyCar drivers with two championship wins to his credit. He has not finished outside the top three since 2006.

- NZ Herald

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