Kiwi star gets his chance in Rally GB
- 11th October 2007, 11:58am
Following a successful New Zealand Rally Championship campaign, which culminated in a second overall placing by the narrowest of margins, plus victories at Rally Whangarei and last weekend's championship final, Rally Nelson, 20 year old Paddon is taking the next step, rallying overseas.
Hayden and co-driver John Kennard will drive a Reece Jones Rallysport (RJR) Mitsubishi Evo 9 in the 3 day event, which starts in Cardiff on November 30.
"It's a fantastic opportunity and gives us a good chance to make up for the mechanical problems we had when running well in the PWRC class at our own WRC round, Rally New Zealand. It will certainly be something different; around the other side of the world for the first time, rallying in a foreign country with a different culture, weather and surroundings,” Paddon said.
The opportunity has been made possible through one of Hayden's mentors, two time New Zealand Rally Champion, Reece Jones. Jones and his team have a wealth of international experience, running teams in a variety of international championships. Paddon will take over the Team Jordan PWRC entry of regular RJR driver Amjad Farah.
"Reece and his team have been a huge plus for our New Zealand Rally Championship campaign, helping us find some of our extra speed this year. It's very heartening that someone of Reece's calibre and experience is prepared to help us to the extent that he is offering me my first chance to compete overseas and to take the next step toward achieving my goals,” he said.
Rally GB will be a big challenge for the team. Held in wintry conditions in the forests of south Wales, its stages are often blanketed in layers of fog, ice and sometimes snow. Throw in the night stages that will conclude each day's competition and the event promises to be a real eye opener for Paddon.
"To be honest, I'm not really too sure what to expect, as the character of the roads will definitely be different to those I'm used to. But at the end of the day they're still gravel roads and we're going over there to challenge the PWRC front runners.
“The biggest key will be our pacenotes, but I'm confident that the experience I've gained writing my own notes for the first time with John this year has been invaluable and will see me right on a new event like this."
The rally is also aimed at being a stepping stone for next year, as the team try to put plans together to contest more PWRC events.
"Reece has expressed an interest in running us in some of the other events on the PWRC calendar, but, being spread all around the world, the money required to compete in them is huge. We'd like to contest the complete championship, but in the end how many events we do will obviously come down to the funding we can put in place. Our aim is to win the PWRC within three years, then progress from there."
Paddon is also still committed to winning the New Zealand Rally Championship, which he missed by a solitary point this season. To achieve this he will debut a new left hand drive Mitsubishi Evo 9 in the six-round series starting April next year.
"The whole purpose of going to left hand drive is to get experience on the other side of the car, as the majority of PWRC and WRC teams use left-hand drive cars. So by learning now, it means when we get further opportunities offshore, we can get straight into a left hand drive car without having to spend too much time adjusting to it,” Paddon added.
Wales Rally GB starts with shakedown on November 29, and tackles 17 stages over three days in the forests to the north of Swansea, where the event’s central service park is based.
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