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He and co-driver John Kennard line up as the top seeds at the second round of the New Zealand Rally Championship in Whangarei this weekend.
Running under the Hyundai New Zealand Rally banner this season, Paddon aims to make the most of every minute on the 253km of special stages of the Whangarei event as he and Kennard prepare to return to Europe for the World Rally Championship-2.
The five-time New Zealand champion knows his own performance will benefit from as much seat time as possible.
To secure the win in Whangarei with maximum points, Paddon and his team will be working hard to ensure a trouble-free run in the Hyundai i20 AP4.
The Hyundai crew came away from the first NZRC round in Otago last month with the win and top points, as well as a few things they wanted to improve on the car.
These tweaks and improvements have been done and Paddon is looking forward to getting into the action, which starts on Friday evening with a super special stage in William Fraser Memorial Park near downtown Whangarei.
“A maximum point score is again the target and that puts a lot of emphasis on having a trouble-free event,’’ Paddon said.
‘‘There are stage records up for grabs, but we may have to balance challenging those depending on the conditions.
“Otago was a good warm-up for the season ahead, but it was exactly that — a warm-up. We know there is more in myself and the car, so we are focused on extracting that to put together a more polished performance.
“Any and all seat time before we go to Europe is absolutely vital, so this rally plays a key role in our preparation for WRC2.
“We have made several changes to the car. In Otago we essentially had all the right ingredients in the pot from pre-season testing, but we just didn’t have them in the right way. So, we have rectified a lot of that which should make the car easier to drive.”
The team will again seek out a deserving local as part of the new ‘‘Paddon Project’’.
It started in Dunedin with motorsport-mad youngsters Jensen and Ari West getting a visit from Paddon at St Peter Chanel School, and long-serving motorsport official Mike Hosken getting a cash prize.