Sun 16 Jun 2024

Champion Paddon back in the ERC title frame after Royal Rally drama

Defending champion Hayden Paddon moved equal on points at the top of the FIA European Rally Championship in a dramatic finale to BAUHAUS Royal Rally of Scandinavia yesterday – then revealed that he feared the worst when trouble struck on the Power Stage.

Paddon started the deciding test in second place only for a damaged front-right tyre to slow him through the closing kilometres. Having lost almost 30 seconds to his rivals, Paddon’s ERC podium absence in 2024 looked set to continue. That was until Mathieu Franceschi crashed out of fourth place, which left Paddon to claim the final podium spot behind winner Oliver Solberg and runner-up Mikko Heikkilä.  


Of his Power Stage drama, Paddon, who pilots a Pirelli-equipped Hyundai i20 N Rally2 alongside co-driver John Kennard, said: “It’s not what we wanted to happen but at least the result was okay because we’re back on the podium. But we lost a few points again today and it’s a little bit unbelievable because it’s déjà vu from Hungary. But this is rally, we’re still ticking up points even if we’re getting a few challenges thrown at us this year.”

Of his Power Stage drama, Paddon, who pilots a Pirelli-equipped Hyundai i20 N Rally2 alongside co-driver John Kennard, said: “It’s not what we wanted to happen but at least the result was okay because we’re back on the podium. But we lost a few points again today and it’s a little bit unbelievable because it’s déjà vu from Hungary. But this is rally, we’re still ticking up points even if we’re getting a few challenges thrown at us this year.”   


He continued: “There were a couple of very small impacts but nothing dramatic, nothing I can pinpoint [as the cause of the damage]. Sometimes you’ve got to have luck on our side with these things and luck’s just not on our side.  


“I didn’t know Franceschi had dropped out and that’s obviously unfortunate for him because he was doing a very good rally. Okay, it works in our favour in terms of the championship, but it just goes to show in one stage how quickly everything can change.”  


Paddon and Franceschi are now tied on 56 points ahead of next month’s Delfi Rally Estonia, ound four of the eight-event season, although it’s Franceschi who tops the order based on the results countback rule.  


“I guess we start from here and at least we’ve got ourselves back on an even footing in terms of the championship,” the BRC Racing Team driver said. “But we need to reset and try to get some luck back on our side.  


“There are a few things we learned this weekend, we still need some more performance, we gained a little bit but we need to find more. I’m looking forward to Estonia, I did a couple of stages in 2022 and also did it in 2018 so at least we have some experience there so it should be good. I think we can be competitive.”

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