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Double New Zealand National Rally Champion Hayden Paddon is looking forward to his debut on the iconic weeklong tarmac Dunlop Targa next week. After a successful 2009 rally campaign, Hayden and Team Green have entered the grueling event in their Rallytours backed Mitsubishi Evo9 as a learning experience ahead of the 2010 World Rally Championship.

Winning the coveted Pirelli Star Driver scholarship at last months Rally Australia has given Hayden a once in a lifetime opportunity to contest 6 rounds of the World Rally Championship in 2010, a programme which includes complete tarmac rallies, a surface that is all new to Hayden.

"I used to do go-karting on race tracks when I was younger, but other than that I have not done a lot of tarmac driving. So first and foremost our goal for Dunlop Targa is to use the event to gain mileage on the more adhesive surface, and to see what I need to do to adapt my driving to suit."

The event, which starts in Auckland on Sunday 25 October, treks the length of the North Island, using some of the best tarmac roads that are hidden away in back country valleys and along scenic ridge tops, before finishing in Wellington on 31 October.

"I cannot think of anything better than rallying for 7 days straight. Despite taking a bit of a low key approach to the event, I will have to keep my wits about me because it will be all new to me, especially driving flat out on roads like this without pace notes."

As the team are focusing on extending their experience of driving a production car, as Hayden will continue to do next year, they have left the Team Green Mitsubishi in production trim, while taking the opportunity to adopt new 2010 regulations that allow a slightly larger turbo restrictor.

"On open fast roads it will be difficult to keep pace with some of the Porsche GT3 and Nissan Skylines, but I believe there will be some tighter stages where we may be able to set some competitive times, though that is not our focus."

Despite the event been driven without any reconnaissance, Hayden will be in good hands, with Targa veteran and Rallytours director Greg Paul being drafted in to the co-drivers seat for the marathon. Greg and Rallytours, who joined Team Green in 2009, host tour groups at selected World Championship events, something that has proved popular with rally enthusiasts worldwide. With continued support from Endless, Reaction Racing, Dunlop Tyres, Timaru Signs, Total Automotive, In-Tune Automotive and the rest of the 2009 Team Green partners, Hayden will compete in this iconic event with an eye to the future.

At the conclusion of Dunlop Targa, the team will head home to prepare for the Westland Rally on the 12-13 November where they will run as course opening car. The new look Westland Rally will incorporate tarmac stages on Friday night in addition to their usual fantastic gravel roads on Saturday, which will give Hayden the chance to put into practice some of his lessons from the Dunlop Targa.

For Dunlop Targa information and results visit www.targa.co.nz or www.hayden-paddon.com
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