Paddon And Kennard Keep ERC Lead In Latvia

Published: Mon 19 Jun 2023 04:29 PM
The New Zealand rally pairing Hayden Paddon and John Kennard continue to lead the 2023 FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) following the fourth round in Latvia which finished on 18 June.
Paddon and Kennard put in a trademark consistent performance to secure second place in Tet Rally Liepāja which was won by Latvian local Martin Sesks.
The Kiwis each have 113 points in their respective driver/co-driver championships, with Sesks now marginally closer to Paddon on the points-table, with 83 points after the rally win.
The rally comprised only ten stages and with one stage being cancelled due to safety concerns with heavy dust, the remaining nine stages featured an intensely fought battle between the championship-leading Kiwis in their BRC-run Hyundai i20 Rally 2 car and a slew of fast European drivers.
The rally officially gets underway on Friday with a qualifying stage, allowing the fastest competitors the opportunity to choose their road position for Saturday’s stages. Eighth fastest in qualifying wasn’t where Paddon aimed to be and he started Saturday’s dry and dusty route tenth on the road. Fourth quickest through special stage one, Paddon worked his way up the leaderboard to second overall by the end of the day and 28.3 seconds away from Sesks in the lead. Overnight rain changed road conditions dramatically for Sunday’s four stages. With the top 15 competitors running in reverse order, Paddon was 14th on the road and commented about the deep ruts in some stages requiring caution and risk minimisation. Another considered drive meant the star Kiwi was able to bring his Hyundai home in second place and maximise the opportunity for championship points.
“In the end we got the most out of the weekend,” said Paddon. “It was always going to be hard to beat Sesks on his home rally. After a poor qualifying and losing more time than others on the very dusty first stage, we were on the back foot on Saturday, but I’m happy we were able to recover from that to bring home a podium result.”
He enjoyed the Latvian stages. “They’re great rally stages, fast and flowing. Other than that first very dusty stage which was challenging for everyone, the conditions settled down for the rest of the rally once we had rain.”
This season has featured ongoing development with the Hyundai i20 Rally 2 car by Italian team BRC who Paddon is competing with in the ERC and, back at home, by PRG.
“The car is feeling great. There are some aspects which could be improved for the rougher, repeated stages but we will look to improve this before Sweden which is our next ERC event in early July.”
Paddon and Hyundai New Zealand Rally appreciate the support of Hyundai New Zealand, Mitre 10 Trade, Z Energy, Makita, Open Country, Bars Bugs, Pirelli, OMP/Racer Products, Winmax Brake Pads, South Canterbury Road Safety, Ben Nevis Station, Bailey Caravans, Repco NZ, Highlands Motorsport Park, MITO, ETCO, Jacanna Freight, Pak N’ Save, Machinery House, Bartercard, Mike Greer Homes, Provident Insurance, Zealandia Systems, Carters Tyres and Signbiz.
Keep up with news on Hayden Paddon and the Hyundai New Zealand Rally team via the Facebook page

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