Sat 09 Dec 2023

Paddon, Kennard and Team MRF Tyres officially crowned ERC champions

Hayden Paddon and co-driver John Kennard were officially crowned the winners of the 2023 FIA European Rally Championship during a star-studded ceremony hosted by motorsport’s world governing body in Baku, Azerbaijan, earlier today.

Paddon and Kennard put the coveted title beyond doubt on Barum Czech Rally Zlín in August. However, in keeping with tradition, they were only able to formally celebrate their standout success for BRC Racing Team at the FIA’s spectacular end-of-year Prize Giving event.  

Joining several other regional rally champions and FIA World Rally Championship title winners at the Baku Conference Center on Saturday, Paddon and Kennard received their trophies from FIA vice president for Sport Europe Anna Nordkvist.

Arun Mammen (above), vice chair and managing director of MRF Ltd, accepted the FIA European Rally Champonship for Teams award from Nordkvist.  

New Zealander Paddon took one victory and five podiums aboard his Pirelli-equipped Hyundai i20 N Rally2.   

Of the ERC, the 36-year-old said: “It’s the most enjoyable championship I’ve ever done. Obviously, it has the same promoter behind it [as the WRC] and for where I am in my career, in terms of value for money, it’s probably the best championship in the world. You’ve got all the promotion, all the live stages, the Rally2 cars are the showpiece of the rallies so that’s what the fans go to see and that’s what’s at the forefront of the rallies, so you are trying to compete for overall results.

“I love the variety of the different rallies but also the fact you’ve got your fast championship regulars and you throw into the mix on every rally the fast locals who come in. The competition is constantly changing and it’s making it interesting for fans, for us as drivers, and I love the fact that locals try to shine on their local rallies. It gives us something else to strive for. The whole concept works really, really well and I’ve just really enjoyed the season.”  

The ERC’s 70th anniversary season was contested over eight events with Jon Armstrong and Cameron Fair winning the FIA ERC3 Championship and Roberto Daprà and Luca Guglielmetti coming out on top in FIA ERC4. Meanwhile, Francesca Maior co-drove her brother Norbert to the Hankook-supported FIA Junior ERC Championship. The ERC3, ERC4 and Junior ERC trophies were presented at ERC Awards in Budapest on 9 October.

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