Paddon and Kennard line up in Rally2 Hyundai for Otago
Kiwi rally driver Hayden Paddon and his co-driver John Kennard are all set for the opening round of the 2023 New Zealand Rally Championship when it gets underway with Rally Otago on 31 March.
The pair hit the rally’s famed gravel stages in the Hyundai New Zealand Rally-run Hyundai i20 N Rally2 car that they drove in several WRC2 events in Europe as well as Rally New Zealand last year.
Being able to run the same model of Hyundai i20 rally car at selected New Zealand events as well as for his European Rally Championship campaign will be helpful for the six-time New Zealand Rally Champion. Paddon’s learning with and development of the Rally2 i20 can continue during what will be one of his busiest seasons of competition for several years. With some Hyundai New Zealand Rally/PRG personnel travelling to Europe with Paddon to work alongside personnel from Italian motorsport team BRC which runs Paddon’s ERC car, the chance to further develop and improve both cars is invaluable.
“I’m really looking forward to Rally Otago and seeing how the Rally2 car performs on some of my favourite rally roads,” says Cromwell-based Paddon who’s competing with Blenheim’s John Kennard as his co-driver for the 18th year.
“The opportunity to use the Hyundai New Zealand Rally i20N Rally2 car for our NZRC rounds come about after our ERC campaign didn’t require a car. While the Hyundai i20N AP4 has achieved so much for us as a team, it’s also a relatively old car, and this presented us an opportunity to have a modern car on the best rally stages in the world.
“It also complements what we are doing in Europe and means we can speed up development work. Between PRG and BRC, we are working together to push ourselves and the car forward. What we do here will help our ERC campaign.”
Paddon says the Rally2 and AP4 cars are comparable performance wise. “I think in the faster parts, the Rally2 is slightly slower in terms of top speed, but in the medium and slower paces, it will be faster as it handles well. John and I have secured a few AP4 stage records over the years so it’s going to be interesting to see how they compare.”
Recently Paddon and his team ran the car on a pre-event test. “The car felt good in testing. We’re continuing to make developments with the car both in Europe and here, and using the info to help both programmes.”
Rally Otago is busy for the whole PRG crew who are running five cars – Paddon’s plus four customer cars. “It’s going to be full on at my favourite event of the year and we’re hoping for a good result for all our customers. We’ll also see two of our Junior Winmax drivers competing at Rally Otago – Jonty Brenssell from Marlborough and Zeal Jones from Pukekohe. We’ve also had a huge response for nominations for our Paddon’s Project community support initiative. We’re looking forward to surprising and meeting the chosen recipient on the Monday after the rally.”
Otago Rally begins on 31 March with a ceremonial opening in the Octagon in downtown Dunedin before two days of gravel action on 1 and 2 April take competitors across 120 km of special stages as far north as the Waitaki River and as far south as Tairei Mouth. It also includes a 29.9km stage on the iconic Danseys Pass Road. Weather conditions are looking a little changeable but good early winter rallying conditions.
Paddon and Hyundai New Zealand Rally appreciate the support of Hyundai New Zealand, Mitre 10 Trade, Z Energy, Makita, Open Country, Bars Bugs, Pirelli, OMP/Racer Products, Winmax Brake Pads, South Canterbury Road Safety, Ben Nevis Station, Bailey Caravans, Repco NZ, Highlands Motorsport Park, MITO, ETCO, Jacanna Freight, Pak N’ Save, Machinery House, Bartercard, Mike Greer Homes, Provident Insurance, Zealandia Systems, Carters Tyres and Signbiz.
Keep up with news on Hayden Paddon and the Hyundai New Zealand Rally team via the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/paddonrallysport.