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Paddon and Kennard put on a clinic last year, winning all 17 special stages to win the event by a large margin.
However, a stronger field has been assembled for 2019, so Paddon will need to be at his best on the 15 special stages of this year's event.
Today the field tackles roads in Brighton and the Taieri, as well as a special tarmac stage in downtown Dunedin.
Tomorrow the racers will be tested by roads in North Otago, before finishing at Dunedin railway station.