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New Zealand’s top rally drivers Hayden Paddon and John Kennard are right on the pace during the 2013 ADAC Rallye Deutschland, holding steady in third place in the WRC2 category after the third day’s stages and, to their surprise, eighth place overall.
 
Paddon and Kennard have continued to demonstrate speed, consistency and the ability to cope with narrow tarmac roads and challenges of the famed Arena Panzerplatte stage – setting the third-quickest WRC2 time of 25:04.5 through the 41.08 km test, just 23.3 seconds behind stage winner Elfyn Evans.
 
Paddon reports while the day has had its challenges, he’s surprised and happy to be eighth overall in a 69-strong field and the leading S2000 car in WRC2 with his strong third place in this category.
 
“The morning loop of stages remained dry despite the continued threat of rain and we were able to set a good pace. With two second-quickest times behind Evans and Kubica on the opening two stages, we were able to overcome the narrow overnight margin to move ahead of Sepp Wiegand to take third place in WRC2,” Paddon said from the Trier service park overnight.
 
“Despite struggling on the Panzerplatte stage – it is a very difficult stage with the constant surface and grip level change and we struggled with a lot of under-steer – we were able to build a 10 second lead over Sepp in fourth and move up into ninth overall.
 
“The predicted rain arrived in the afternoon and made conditions very slippery. On the first stage after service I took it easy – we have not been in the Skoda on wet tarmac for over 10 months, so it was certainly a challenge.”
 
Paddon’s time through this first rain-slicked stage was still the tenth-quickest overall.
 
“On the next stage we settled into a better groove and at the mid-way point of the stage we were two seconds up on both Sepp Wiegand (in the factory Skoda) and Elfyn Evans (R5 Fiesta). Then we came across the stricken Wiegand in the middle of the road, caught out on a muddy corner. With that it meant we had a very healthy margin over fourth place, so immediately we backed off.”
 
The final of Saturday’s six stages, the second run through Arena Panzerplatte, was cancelled after a fatal accident on the stage involving a historic car participating in a non-competitive demonstration.
 
“Our thoughts are with all of those people, family and friends involved,” said Paddon.
 
“Tomorrow [Sunday] is a shorter day with just two runs through the same 24 km stage, but continued rain will mean conditions will be slippery. With over eight minutes to Subhan Aksa in fourth, we now just need to bring it home for what would be a good result.”
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