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Hayden Paddon and John Kennard are more than ready to hit the varied and challenging roads of their next World Rally Championship event, the 22 to 25 August running of ADAC Rallye Deutschland where another podium finish in the WRC2 category is their goal.
The Kiwis finished a very credible third place in the WRC2 category, which includes Super 2000, RRC and R5 spec cars at Rally Finland earlier this month. The Finnish rally was Paddon and Kennard’s first WRC event of the year and, as always, they’re keen to demonstrate their abilities in Germany, their second confirmed WRC start for 2013.
After a productive test in his Skoda Fabia S2000 car on a tarmac stage earlier this week, Paddon says he’s feeling comfortable in the car.
“It was a good but short test – just 50 km. Our team has a good set-up base and experience of the German rally, so it was really a matter of just feeling my way back into tarmac with the Skoda. The car felt great, so I have no doubts that we can be on the pace from stage one,” says Paddon.
Paddon and Kennard contested the German event together just once before, back in 2010 during the Pirelli Star Driver scholarship season, but with route changes, Paddon says they’ve never done any of this year’s stages so it’s almost like a new event.
“It’s a technical tarmac rally with a mixture of surfaces, from the cobblestone, smooth country roads, and winding roads through the vineyards – it’s a really interesting mix. The event can also have a lot of isolated rain which makes weather information and the choice of sort or hard compound tyre critical.
“This was my first tarmac event ever in 2010 and we finished second in the Production World Rally Championship class; now in 2013 it’s my sixth tarmac event, so while I’m still relatively inexperienced on this surface, I really enjoy the challenge.”
Paddon is still feeling the buzz of being back in WRC competition with a podium finish in Finland two weeks ago and he’s been making the most of the opportunity to boost his training regime with various European specialists.
“There’s nothing like being back in action but does take a little time to settle into the groove. Everyone we are competing against has done a lot of miles this year, whereas we have not. So the biggest thing is time in the seat. It has also been busy here, as we have undertaken increased training programmes including mental training at Formula Medicine in Italy, which works with a lot of Formula 1 drivers, and some simulator work.”
Paddon says the two days at Formula Medicine was both valuable and educational. “It was a real eye opening experience into the limitations and training of the brain. It’s only a starting point but certainly gives me a lot of things to work on to ultimately be a better driver.”
In terms of goals for the German event, Paddon says he’s working on a rally by rally approach.
“Obviously we want to be fighting for top spot but, as it was in Finland, that will be hard against the faster R5 and RRC cars. Also Robert Kubica in particular will be very fast, but we feel comfortable with our package that we can fight with them all.”
Paddon and Kennard spend 19 to 21 August doing reconnaissance across the 371.92 competitive kilometres of 16 special stages before the official short shakedown run near the event’s hometown of Trier. The 11th running of the event takes competitors north to the city of Cologne for the first time for Thursday afternoon’s official start ceremony, then they head back southwest toward Trier for the first two special stages, both new, running Thursday evening. Friday’s six special stages are two repeated runs on three incredibly windy stages on narrow vineyard roads in the Moselle region. Saturday’s six tests include the famed Arena Panzerplatte, its 41.08 km in the Baumholder military reserve being contested twice. The action wraps up on Sunday morning with two runs through the same 24.58 km stage which features a veritable cascade of hairpin bends through more narrow vineyard roads, before the finish ceremony back in Trier.
After the German round of the World Rally Championship, Paddon and Kennard head down-under for September’s running of Rally Australia. The team is running a fan tour to the event, with more information available on the website, www.haydenpaddon.com.
Throughout the event, video and audio updates, plus a selection of images, will be available on the Stadium Cars New Zealand World Rally Team’s Facebook page www.facebook.com/haydenpaddonwrc.
Paddon and the Stadium Cars New Zealand World Rally Team appreciate the support of VINZ, Giltrap Group, PlaceMakers, Z Energy, Stadium Cars, Telecom New Zealand, CP-Carrillo, Saddle Hill Quarries, Heartland Potato Chips, New Balance, Scott Sports, Total Automotive Timaru, Coxy’s Panel Repairs, Resene, All About Signs, Reaction Racing, In-Tune Automotive, Racetech, Chicane, Endless Brakes, Nichibo, Choice at Team Ralliart, Andar The Front Store, MCA Suspension, Tyre General, Dunlop, Pope Print, Bluebridge Ferry, ION, and 1Group.