New Zealand’s top rally pairing Hayden Paddon and John Kennard have secured fourth place at this year’s World Rally Championship event in Wales, their second close fourth-place finish in two events.
It’s the best result the Kiwis have achieved at Wales Rally GB, this being their sixth run here. The rally delivered its traditional wet and muddy conditions despite being run a little earlier in the championship calendar than it is usually. Paddon and Kennard continue to hold in fourth position in their respective drivers’ and co-drivers’ championship points-tables, and are now just three points adrift of third.
“Fourth is a good result, but of course we wanted more,” said Paddon at the conclusion of Sunday’s (UK time) six short stages, where he kept the pressure on third-placed Hyundai Motorsport team-mate Thierry Neuville. Paddon matched the second-quickest time of rally winner Sebastien Ogier on the morning’s third stage while battling with Neuville, and eventually finished just 19.5 seconds shy of third place.
“To come so close to the podium two rallies in a row is certainly a little frustrating, but at the same time, these are still good, strong points which put us in a position now where we can fight for third in the championship at the last rally in Australia. It also gives us a good road position for Australia so we’ve got a bit of a fire in our bellies to really come out and attack in Australia to try and get a good result.
“We’re getting closer – even this year here, we’re a little bit behind still, but it’s a much bigger improvement to where we were here last year. So we’re heading in the right direction, it’s just small steps and we’re having to be a little bit patient in the meantime.
“These roads have never really suited me. They don’t suit my natural driving style, and don’t allow me to manoeuvre the car into the corner as I like to. So we had to adapt this weekend and that never really felt natural, and that’s where a little bit of the time loss was. We know how and why the time is disappearing, we just have to work on how we’re going to fix that for the future.”
Neuville’s third place means that Hyundai Motorsport has now taken 11 podiums in total this season, finishing in the top-three in nine out of the 12 events held. The team has confirmed its second place in the WRC manufacturers’ championship on 285 points with Neuville, Paddon and Sordo all inside the top-five on the drivers’ classification.
Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “Firstly, we are all delighted to secure second place in the manufacturers’ championship with today’s result. It’s a special moment in our history and confirmation of our most competitive season in the WRC. It’s actually been a bittersweet weekend from a performance point of view. On the one hand, I am pleased we could take our first ever Welsh podium, thanks to a strong showing from Thierry and Nicolas. On the other hand, we were not able to put up a stronger fight for the top-two positions, which shows there are some areas of performance where we still need to improve. Looking at the positives, the New Generation i20 WRC ran reliably all weekend, and all three crews finished in the top-six – by far our most competitive showing in Wales to date. We can look positively towards the final event of the season.”
The 2016 WRC season concludes in Australia over the weekend of 17-20 November.
Paddon and Hayden Paddon RallySport Global (HPRG) Ltd appreciates the support of their exclusive partners, Hyundai New Zealand, Pak’nSave and Z Energy and associate sponsors Scott Sports and All About Signs Timaru.
2016 FIA World Rally Championship, Round 12, Wales Rally GB
Overall Final Classification
1. S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 3:14:30.2
2. O. Tanak / R. Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +10.2
3. T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +1:35.4
4. H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +1:54.9
5. K. Meeke / P. Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +2:35.2
6. D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +4:02.6
7. J. M. Latvala / M. Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +4:28.3
8. M. Østberg / O. Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:38.2
9. S. Lefebvre / G. De Turckheim (Citroën DS3 WRC) +7:12.2
10. E. Camilli / B. Veillas (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +8:19.3
2016 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings
S. Ogier 247 points / T. Neuville 143 / A. Mikkelsen 129 / H. Paddon 126 / D. Sordo 119 / J. M. Latvala 110 / M. Østberg 94 / O. Tanak 82 / K. Meeke 64 / C. Breen 36 / E. Camilli 28 / S. Lefebvre 14 / H. Solberg 14 / E. Lappi 12 / M. Prokop 12 / K. Abbring 10 / T. Suninen 8 / P. Tidemand 8 / J. Kopecky 7 / M. Ligato 6 / E. Evans 6 / L. Bertelli 4 / N. Fuchs 2 / A. Kremer 2 / V. Gorban 1 / K. Kruuda 1
2016 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings
Volkswagen Motorsport 322 points / Hyundai Motorsport 285 / M-Sport World Rally Team 154 Volkswagen Motorsport II 138 / Hyundai Motorsport N 136 / DMACK World Rally Team 92 / Jipocar Czech National Team 18 / Yazeed Racing 4
All results remain subject to official FIA confirmation.
Hayden Paddon’s 2016 WRC schedule with Hyundai Motorsport
WRC Round 1: Monte Carlo, 21-24 January (25th)
WRC Round 2: Sweden, 11-14 February (second)
WRC Round 3: Mexico, 3-6 March (fifth)
WRC Round 4: Argentina, 21-24 April (first)
WRC Round 5: Portugal, 19-22 May (DNF)
WRC Round 6: Italy, 9-12 June (DNF)
WRC Round 7: Poland, 1-3 July (third)
WRC Round 8: Finland, 28-31 July (fifth)
WRC Round 9: Germany, 18-21 August (fifth)
WRC Round 10: France, 29 September – 2 October (sixth)
WRC Round 11: Spain, 13-16 October (fourth)
WRC Round 12: Great Britain, 27-30 October (fourth)
WRC Round 13: Australia, 17-20 November
by Kate Gordon-Smith/Relish Communications