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A broken alternator-power steering belt hampered top Kiwi rally driver Hayden Paddon from making a flying start as the 22 to 26 August running of ADAC Rallye Deutschland got underway overnight. But Paddon remains positive and with co-driver John Kennard calling the pace notes, showed top-running pace in the second of Thursday’s two twilight-run stages to hold sixth place going into the first full day of competition on Friday.
Paddon reports: “It was a spectacular ceremonial start in front of the massive cathedral in the centre of Cologne earlier this afternoon for the ninth FIA World Rally Championship event of 2013. From there, we had two special stages which unfortunately did not go to plan for us.
“Only two kilometres into the first 23 km stage, we lost the power steering, and then we had battery voltage warning lights for the rest of the stage. It became apparent that the alternator-power steer belt had broken and we had to nurse the car through the stage. And I tell you what, driving a modern day rally car with no power steering is not like the cars of old which didn’t have power steering…It felt like trying to bench press 100kg! Because of this and the struggle to get the car through the corners we lost over a minute and 40 seconds to Robert Kubica, who as expected was leading the WRC2 class, but at least we were still in the rally.
“Between stages we fitted the spare belt we carry among a selection of parts and tools, and the car was absolutely fine for the second stage where we were able to set third fastest time behind Kubica and Elfyn Evans and climb the overall leader-board from ninth back to sixth.”
Paddon’s time in the S2000-spec Skoda Fabia through the 14.11 km second stage was third-quickest in the WRC2 field, and just 1.1 seconds away from Elfyn Evans who was second and 4.9 second adrift of the quickest through this stage, Robert Kubica. Paddon’s time was notably the 12th fastest overall in the 76-strong field and he’s placed 24th on the overall leader-board.
“Tomorrow [Friday] however is a long day of rallying and we plan to push hard to make up for lost time. With just two stages complete, it’s still very early in a challenging event. We are feeling positive, especially considering we lost more time in Finland and still managed third. So we have not given up and tomorrow promises to be an exciting day.”
Only 11 of the 13 WRC2 competitors finished the event’s first two stages; the two non-finishers are expected to re-join on Friday. The WRC2 category includes Super 2000, R5 and RRC specification vehicles such as the Skoda, like Paddon’s, and the newer Ford Fiesta R5, Ford Fiesta RRC and Citroën DS3 RRC.
With six stages on Friday, another six on Saturday and four on Sunday, the German event is one of several WRC events this year utilising a four-day format. Paddon and Kennard have 371.92 competitive kilometres ahead of them on windy, narrow vineyard roads and a mix of country roads including the famed Arena Panzerplatte in the Baumholder military reserve.
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