Paddon to take on the big guns
Thu, 14 Jun 2012 6:50p.m.
By Shaun Summerfield
New Zealand’s top rally driver has put the big names on notice for next week's Rally New Zealand, and despite being in a slightly slower S-WRC car Hayden Paddon is after a few WRC scalps as he looks to claim the championship lead.
Paddon is famously fast on gravel, but he is just as happy lugging his $250,000 rally car 1,200km from his home in south Canterbury to rally headquarters in Auckland.
“Driving the truck up from Geraldine for a couple of days, and working on the car - unfortunately we don’t spend enough time driving the rally car so I’ve got to do other things,” he says.
It might be down to earth compared to other drivers but Paddon's career continues to soar - in five years he has won two New Zealand championships and last year took out the production class world title.
Now he is staking a claim in the S-WRC class - a slightly slower version of the top level WRC cars.
“You do have to pinch yourself – we are very fortunate to have this car in New Zealand,” he says.
“Once you get the helmet on and on to the stages it’s going to be awesome.”
One thing Paddon will not get to do is test himself against Skoda team mate Sebastien Ogier, who only missed out on winning the last Rally New Zealand due to a crash on the final stage.
“It’s a pity that he’s not here in New Zealand because I think we could have given him a good run for his money,” he says.
Still there is plenty of other big names to take on.
“We’re aiming for a top ten. There’s 14 or 15 cars here, we want to mix it among the WRC cars, and obviously winning the S-WRC goes without saying.”
And it would be a win that would see him take a commanding lead in the S-WRC championship.
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