Wed 08 May 2024

Paddon relishing strong competition in ERC

Hayden Paddon’s final-day fall from third to sixth on Rally Islas Canarias has left the Hyundai-powered star thirsty for even more strong competition during this season’s FIA European Rally Championship.

Paddon, from New Zealand, was unable to fend off Spanish stars Alejandro Cachón, Diego Ruiloba and José Antonio Suárez over Saturday’s deciding six-stage leg and had to settle for sixth position in the final reckoning.  

But rather than letting his loss of position – and championship points – get him down, the 37-year-old relished the fight and spoke highly of the ERC’s ultra-competitive nature.  

“That’s the beautify of the ERC, you get the national guys that come in,” BRC Racing Team-run Paddon said. “That’s the part of the WRC that’s missing I think. It mixes it up [with national championship drivers scoring points, I have], no complaints. I’ve got to try to beat them and keep them behind.”

Paddon pointed to having to handle an understeering Hyundai i20 N Rally2 as being part of the challenge he faced on the all-asphalt event.   

“It’s not quite gelling, but it could be worse,” Pirelli-equipped Paddon said. “The feeling and the balance with the car at the moment… we’ve got quite a lot of understeer. It’s super-close between so many drivers and you’ve got to stay consistently fast, you can’t afford one bad stage.  

“We’ve had some bad stages but when things are going well there’s not much more in it. I feel we’re going faster than when we were here last year but everyone’s going faster. It makes it difficult so all we can do is the best we can with what we’ve got.”   

Paddon was 36.9sec adrift of first position when he finished second overall on Rally Islas Canarias in 2023. Last Saturday he was 40.9sec behind back-to-back winner Yoann Bonato, but four places further down the order.

“Massively competitive, probably one of the most competitive rallies I’ve ever done,” he said at the completion of the Power Stage. “We’ve been trying this weekend, it’s not the result we wanted but I can tell you it’s not for the lack of trying. We haven’t had the package to be right at the front but hats off to everyone, the three Spanish guys were incredibly fast, [Mathieu] Franceschi and Bonato as well. We haven’t had a bad weekend but when you look at the result it makes it look bad and that’s a credit to the championship.”  

Paddon, who is co-driven by countryman John Kennard, is second in the provisional ERC standings, 21 points behind early pacesetter Franceschi.

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