Wed 12 Jul 2023

Why Paddon has no plans to get selfish in the ERC

Hayden Paddon isn’t about to put his own interests first in the FIA European Rally Championship.

After five action-packed rounds, the New Zealander holds a 34-point advantage in the provisional title order following his second-place finish and Power Stage victory on BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia last week.

The result in Sweden means Paddon, who is co-driven by John Kennard, has gone four events without a victory, not that he’s concerned by his absence from the top step of the podium.

He said: “Yeah [I want to win rallies], but I want to win the championship as well. You don’t get many chances to try to win a European championship. We’re trying to do something that hasn’t been done before in 70 years in terms of a non-European [winning]. That’s the big goal, that’s what my sponsors and supporters are supporting. The selfish side of me says let’s just go and win another rally but this is just about more than me and John, there are a lot of people helping us.”

Although Paddon led outright in Sweden and won six stages aboard his BRC Racing Team-run Hyundai i20 N Rally2, he ultimately finished runner-up to Oliver Solberg following a close battle between the Pirelli-equipped pair.

Obviously we’re getting second too often, but if you said to us, ‘you would take second behind Oliver at the start of the rally’, we would have taken it,” Paddon said. “It would have been nice to have put up a little more of a fight, but we had to make sure we made no silly mistakes and make sure we got points. Winning the Power Stage was the only target this afternoon, just trying to look after the tyres and the car and have a bit of a push on the Power Stage. Luckily it played out.”

Of 21-year-old Solberg, Paddon has nothing but praise for the Swede. “He’s a world-class driver, he’s at the top of his game in Rally2 cars and he’s definitely one of the fastest young talents out there. We’re definitely not worried that we got second to him. It was a good fight and hopefully we can compete against each other soon.”

With the ERC switching to Tarmac for the deciding three rounds of the season – starting with Rally di Roma Capitale from 28 - 30 July – Paddon is of the belief that he can transfer his gravel prowess to sealed-surface stages.

“We’ve got a good package on Tarmac between the car and the team and the Pirelli tyres, it gives us a good chance,” the 36-year-old said. “I enjoy Tarmac even though there’s a perception I don’t. I don’t enjoy wet, slippy Tarmac so hopefully we don’t get that in Rome. Barum [Czech Rally Zlín] is probably a whole different debate but I’m looking forward to Rome where the target will be to try to extend the championship lead because we know the local drivers will be super fast.”

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM