Hayden Paddon, John Kennard and the Hyundai New Zealand Rally team were pleased with the results of their first event with the brand-new Hyundai i20 N Rally2 car in Latvia and are now focused on their preparation for Rally Estonia.
The Kiwi rally team contested Rally Latvia, a round of the FIA European Rally Championship which ran 1 to 3 July, having taken delivery of the new Rally2 car just two days prior. With no opportunity to test the car themselves, Paddon’s first drive was at the rally’s shakedown stage.
Paddon and Kennard showed plenty of speed throughout the two-day rally, setting several top three stage times in a field of 200+ cars despite the car not being set up the way Paddon would prefer. While a spin on Saturday dropped them down the overall standings for the final result of sixth overall, Paddon regards the test rally as a success due to the amount of information about the car the team was able to gather to be ready for future events.
The European contingent of the Hyundai Rally New Zealand team is now based in Estonia and has seven days to prepare the car for the next event, Rally Estonia running 15 to 17 July which is their first rally in the 2022 FIA World Rally2 Championship. Paddon pays credit to his hard-working team who are working on numerous elements of the car and its setup, including its fresh, new Kiwi-inspired black and white livery.
Paddon says the aim for Estonia is to continue with their own goals of learning the Hyundai i20 N Rally 2 car inside and out, preparing it to better suit Paddon’s preferences. The goals are simple: make the most of every competitive stage to finish the rally and gain more experience of the car and for the team.
Paddon has competed in Estonia once before in 2018, finishing second when the rally was a WRC candidate event with former co-driver Seb Marshall in a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC car.
He’s looking forward to more of the narrow, high speed gravel stages typical of these Eastern European rallies in Latvia and Estonia, and knows these events demand a high level of commitment from the driver to be competitive.
“Latvia was a successful event for us. Despite the result not looking great on paper, we achieved everything we set out to do which was to learn the new car and have a base to work forward from. We achieved that and have learnt we also have a lot of work to get the car setup for my driving style. But it has now given us a direction to work in and will help us be better prepared for Estonia and beyond.
“With Rally Estonia, the goal is essentially the same as Latvia, looking at it as a test rally where we focus on ourselves to ensure we take positive steps forward with the feeling with the car and competitiveness. We have no result expectations or goals, simply to finish the rally and gain more experience of the car and for the team.
“The roads are like Latvia in the way that they are very fast, narrow in places and sandy. High levels of commitment are needed to be competitive.
“The team has been working really hard with just seven days to turn the car around from Latvia which includes all our usual pre-rally prep and also changing the setup of many components. It’s an exciting time for our small and dedicated team as we use this event in Estonia and Rally Finland in August as part of our preparation for a full WRC2 campaign next year.”
Paddon and Hyundai New Zealand Rally appreciate the support of Hyundai New Zealand, Mitre 10 Trade, Z Energy, Makita, Bailey Caravans, Ben Nevis Station, Winmax Brakes, Gravity Internet, Pak N’ Save, Bars Bugs, Pirelli, OMP/Racer Products, Mike Greer Homes, Bartercard, Accessman, Sign It Signs, Carters Tyre Service, ETCO and Provident Insurance.
Keep up with news on Hayden Paddon and the Hyundai New Zealand Rally team via the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/paddonrallysport.
Media release by Kate Gordon-Smith