Grasp of course edge for Paddon

Hayden Paddon
Hayden Paddon
Cromwell driver Hayden Paddon is hoping experience counts when he competes in the second round of the European Rally Championship this weekend.

Paddon and co-driver John Kennard are lining up in Rally Islas Canarias on the Spanish island of Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands.

The pair finished second in the all-tarmac rally last year and are seeded No 1.

"It’s good, for the first time in our ERC experience, to return to a rally that we've done before," Paddon said.

‘‘We have some pace notes, we have some experience, and we are hoping to make some improvements on the car."

Paddon is pleased to have the upgraded engine in the Hyundai i20 Rally 2 car that is run by BRC Racing for the New Zealand pair.

He finished fourth in the opening round at Rally Hungary, earning 19 points towards his bid to win a second ERC title, and is keen to go a few places better this weekend.

"Obviously, it was good to get some points on the board, but Hungary didn't quite deliver the result we were after, so our motivation is quite high for the Canary Islands to try and make amends for that and give it our best shot to get back on that podium.

‘‘While the season is still young, it’s important to get points ticking over consistently with each rally.

‘‘With this being our 19th season competing together, John and I are also trying to win more ERC rallies and be more competitive this year, so there’s plenty to motivate us performance-wise.”

From the first ERC round in Hungary, Paddon could see the intensity of competition was even more fierce than last year.

He felt up to 15 drivers could compete for the win on any given weekend.

‘‘It's very hard to predict the championship results because it is constantly changing, which keeps us on our toes as well because we don't necessarily know who we're directly competing with on each event.

‘‘So, you just have to put your hammer down and try to get as many points as you can from as many people as you can.”

Based in the town of Las Palmas, Rally Islas Canarias comprises 13 special stages over 193.12km on asphalt roads that climb and descend frequently.

A feature of the sealed stages is the abrasive surface, which is constructed partly from volcanic lava. This means grip levels are high and remain constant if it rains, although tire wear can increase in dry conditions.

Former winners of this event include Didier Auriol, Piero Liatti and the great Carlos Sainz, who claimed five consecutive victories in the 1980s.

Paddon will be back next week and have young Christchurch co-driver Jared Hudson with him for the one-day Rally South Canterbury on May 11.