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Mon 01 May 2023

Hunted Paddon the driver to beat in ERC

Hayden Paddon will go from the hunter to the hunted when Rally Islas Canarias hosts round two of the 2023 FIA European Rally Championship from 4 - 6 May.

After hunting down Mikko Heikkilä to win the season-opening Rally Serras de Fafe, Felgueiras, Boticas, Vieira do Minho e Cabeceiras de Basto, Paddon will be the driver his ERC rivals will most want to beat on Rally Islas Canarias as the provisional championship leader by 10 points ahead of Mads Østberg.

“It’s an honour to head to Rally Canarias with #1 on the car,” said the BRC Racing Team-run Paddon, who competes in a Pirelli-equipped Hyundai i20 N Rally2. “But like the previous round, [there’s] a hugely competitive field. But I’m looking forward to the challenge and getting a good feeling with the car on Tarmac.”

Although Italy-based BRC has experience of Rally Islas Canarias when it ran Pierre-Loubet in 2018 (pictured below), this week’s ERC counter, which features a 13-stage route over 190.06 kilometres, is an all-new adventure for Paddon and co-driver John Kennard.

“From what I have seen, Rally Islas Canarias looks like a beautiful rally and I can’t wait,” said the 36-year-old, who changed his planned schedule in order to compete in Gran Canaria.

Østberg, meanwhile, has one Rally Islas Canarias start to his name dating back to March 2016. The Norwegian will drive a Citroën C3 Rally2 for the MRF Tyres Dealer Team and said: “It’s great to see that Hayden will be there. As in every rally there will be five or six guys able to win and I’m sure Hayden is one of them. I’m sure it will be a big fight but I’m really happy to return to Canary Islands. Like every rally we are there to win so that’s also the target in the Canaries.”

Since winning the ERC opener in northern Portugal, Paddon triumphed on Rally of Otago in his native New Zealand and placed fifth on #RA Rally Regione Piemonte, round two of the Italian championship.