Mason’s Rally Wairarapa dominance ends
- 20th July 2009, 8:47am
Paddon in his Mitsubishi Evo 9 powered to the lead right from the outset, winning the opening stage by 13 seconds. Despite a spilt rim on stage 4 costing the team 15 seconds, Paddon lead local favourite Mason by 15 seconds by the conclusion of day 1.
"Today (Saturday) has been a great day and we have been pushing very hard. We were lucky that our puncture happened only a few km's from the end of the stage, so the time loss was minimal. The car has felt fantastic, which is a testament to the hard work the whole team has put in."
However, Paddon knew that they would have an even bigger challenge on their hands to keep Mason at bay on the eight faster Sunday stages.
Losing 4 seconds of their lead on the opening Sunday test, Paddon attacked the next two stages before service, winning both and setting a new stage record on the famous Barton's Line stage. Going into the third stage of the day Paddon held a 13 second lead, but came out the other end with almost a 3 minute lead over former champion Geoff Argyle after Mason crashed at high speed.
"This rally has been a real turning point for us. We have made some major step forwards in the car and adopting my driving better to suit the conditions. The battle we had with Richard was great and was a real ding dong battle. It was a pity we didn't get the chance to battle until the end, but I feel we had the upper hand and we were both pushing very hard."
Paddon and Kennard won 8 of the events 14 stages, setting 4 new stage records in the process, on roads that had been deluged in rain leading up to the event.
"Since Richard's demise it has not been very nice to drive, knowing that we had a good lead and all we had to do was get to the finish. In these sorts of situations it is very easy to make mistakes, so we took things back a notch and drove at a comfortable safe pace" said Hayden.
The team have now extended their championship lead to 61 points over Emma Gilmour with just one round and a maximum of 74 points up for grabs at Nelson in September.
Their next challenge is WRC Rally Australia and the Pirelli Star Driver scholarship that is incorporated into it, for which the team have just 3 weeks to prepare the car before it is shipped across the ditch. Meanwhile, in New Zealand the team's older Evo 8 will make an appearance at the non-championship Possum Bourne Memorial Rally, which Hayden will contest in August as part of the Rally New Zealand International Scholarship.
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