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Just four weeks away from being presented with the trophy as the 2011 FIA Production World Rally Champion, New Zealander Hayden Paddon has finished his final event of the season with a solid 13th place.
Paddon’s use of a brand-new Subaru STI R4 rally car in Wales Rally GB highlighted the potential of the new R4 production car and although the Kiwi was frustrated at times not to get the car working as well as he wanted, many positives were gained.
“Certainly we got the set-up of the car a lot better on the final day than we had earlier in the event, and I was much happier with the handling and able to press on more. We took a lot of information away from the event – for me, for Symtech and for Subaru, so everyone learnt a great deal and the car has a lot of potential,” said Paddon who finished second among the non-WRC competitors in the 2011 FIA World Rally Championship finale. “We tried to have a good battle with the class leader [Dutchman Kevin Abbring in a Super 2000-spec Skoda Fabia], but lost time this morning on the second stage when we went wide into a ditch and stalled the car.”
Despite the error during Sunday morning’s second stage, Paddon’s overall placing improved to 12th briefly after eight-time WRC drivers’ champion Sebastién Loeb had to retire from the event following a crash with another car on the touring stage. Then, as Loeb’s Citroën team-mate Sebastién Ogier charged back through the field, Paddon went back to the 13th position overall he’d held most of the event.
Paddon and co-driver John Kennard, from Geraldine and Blenheim respectively, finished the three and a half day event just 54 seconds adrift of closest non-WRC rival Abbring and a very handy three minutes, 37 seconds ahead of PWRC class winner Patrik Flodin from Sweden.
Paddon says: “Despite the challenges at Rally GB, it has been a hugely successful season and we extend our grateful thanks to everyone involved in helping us achieve our PWRC title win. Thanks also to our Symtech Racing team which did an amazing job building our new R4 car in just five days!
“Now we will continue working hard to confirm plans for next year.”
Paddon heads back to New Zealand on 21 November before joining a week-long, nation-wide road show with sponsors PlaceMakers and Subaru. Starting in Auckland on 23 November, Paddon will visit many PlaceMakers and Subaru outlets throughout the country to end in Dunedin. “We’ll have more details out after Rally GB about which stores we’re visiting and the day and time of each visit. There are so many giveaways and prizes; it’s going to be really exciting!”
In the second week of December, Paddon then heads to the annual FIA gala – in India this year – where he’ll be presented with the silverware for his production world rally championship title.
Paddon appreciates the support of his team, his many supporters around New Zealand and across the world and his valued financial partners, which include Subaru New Zealand, EDL Fasteners, PlaceMakers, Van Leeuwen Dairy,  Milwaukee, Racetech Seats, Castrol, Dunlop, Radio Sport, Radio Hauraki, Camerons Sea and Air Freight, Endless Brakes, In-tune Automotive, All About Signs, Total Automotive, Reaction Racing, Raiseys Sport Nutrition, Chicane Racewear, RallyTours, Alto Lab, Pope Print, Granger Design, Bluebridge Ferry, 1 Group and Symtech Racing for their support with his 2011 campaign.
Final results from Wales Rally GB, S2000/PWRC drivers
1. Kevin Abbring, Skoda Fabia S2000, total time 3:45.00.8
2. Hayden Paddon, Subaru R4, total time 3:45.55.1, diff. +54.3s
3. Patrik Flodin, Subaru Impreza, total time 3:49.32.2, diff. +3:37.1

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