Mon 21 Aug 2023

Paddon praised following ERC title triumph

John Kennard has led the praise after Hayden Paddon clinched the 2023 FIA European Rally Championship with one round to spare*.

Paddon’s long-term co-driver guided his fellow New Zealander to a season-opening ERC victory prior to a run of five consecutive podium finishes in their Pirelli-equipped Hyundai i20 N Rally2.

Although an accident on Barum Czech Rally Zlín yesterday brought that stunning run to an end, Paddon and Kennard’s tally of 163 points can’t be surpassed with just the Rally Hungary finale remaining.

Speaking on Barum Czech Rally Zlín, where the BRC Racing Team duo became European champions during what is the ERC’s 70th-anniversary season, Kennard admitted the 36-year-old Paddon continued to impress him despite 2023 marking their 18th campaign competing together.

“From the first round we’ve been managing a championship, trying to do our own thing, not competing with people when you don’t have to,” Kennard said. “It’s hard to hold him back sometimes because we’re competitive people, both of us. But he’s still got it, absolutely, and it amazes me all the time the way he does stuff, the way he remembers stuff is just stunning. You know what you are doing is a reminder to the video that’s going on in his head all the time. All I’m doing is reminding him of pieces in the video, it’s pretty special.”

Efrén Llarena, the 2022 ERC champion, said of Paddon: “He did an amazing job and was fighting for a podium on every rally. He has a really good team and a really good car, but it was just fantastic to see the job he was doing.”

Mārtiṇš Sesks, who started Barum Czech Rally Zlín with an outside shot at the European title, added: “He’s just been so consistent and we can learn so much from him.”

*Subject to confirmation of the results by the FIA.

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