Hayden Paddon and John Kennard have taken their second win of the season at the International Rally of Whangarei, the second round of the 2022 New Zealand Rally Championship.
Paddon had a strong weekend, setting the fastest time on all 18 special stages, as well as setting new records on 14 of them in his Hyundai i20 AP4 rally car.
The five-time New Zealand Rally Champion praised the team for their teamwork and strategy with tyre planning and management throughout the weekend.
“It was a good weekend and a step up collectively for us as a team in terms of how the car performed and our strategy and teamwork. We ticked a lot of boxes, particularly as we get ready to head back overseas, getting into the rhythm of this two-day event format where strategy, tyre planning and management are so important,” Paddon said.
“The biggest challenge over the weekend was probably sweeping the roads, with a lot more gravel on the stages than we’ve been used to over past years. The morning stages were like driving on marbles and trying to generate a bit of grip where there was no grip. Once the roads were swept for the afternoon runs, things were a bit easier with a clearer line. But we really have no complaints; it’s good fun opening the roads and sliding around a bit more than usual.
“This win was a bit special for a different reason with my grandfather, Bruce Paddon, having passed away on Thursday, so this one was for Grandad.”
Paddon was also happy with the tweaks his team had made to the car since the opening round in April, though there are still adjustments to be made.
“We have a few refinements to the car before South Canterbury which is a fast rally. We don’t have the most power out of all the competitors, that’s probably our Achilles heel, so we have some work to do. It’s important we do our best to collect maximum championship points again in Timaru.
“It was great to see lots of spectators out enjoying the rally action over the weekend in sunny conditions all weekend. Friday night at Pohe Island was particularly impressive to see so many people enjoying the rally action. There’s a whole Rally New Zealand vibe coming through which we all enjoyed.”
For the first time in two years, Paddon and Kennard will return to Europe to compete with their first European rally set to be Rally di Alba on 24 and 25 June.
“In terms of a rundown for our offshore events, it was great with John and I working smoothly together in the car.”
The pair will race a Hyundai i20 R5 rally car as part of their preparation for their first FIA World Rally Championship-2 event in Estonia in July where the Hyundai New Zealand Rally team will run a Hyundai i30 N Rally 2 car
Paddon is aiming to win a sixth New Zealand Rally Championship, racing at the South Canterbury Rally on 18 June before flying out of New Zealand for Italy the next day.
Main Image: Tayler Burke