Top five minimum aim: Paddon

Hayden Paddon.
Hayden Paddon.
New Zealander Hayden Paddon and British co-driver Seb Marshall want to continue their recent form as they head to Marshall's home event, Wales Rally GB, this week.

The 11th round of this year's FIA World Rally Championship starting on Friday takes in familiar roads in north and mid-Wales.

Paddon has competed there seven times previously; Marshall has competed every year since 2010.

After a measured approach to Rally Turkey last month netted the pair the first third place of the season, Paddon said a podium finish was always the goal.

''But this is a rebuilding year where we have focused on consistency, so minimum we're aiming for top five. The weather and road conditions will play a part of what is realistic for us to achieve on day one, then we'll reassess after that,'' he said.

Wales Rally GB offers a very different challenge to the rough and punishing stages in Turkey. Inclement autumn weather can often play a key role. making the fast, tree-lined routes into the Welsh forest treacherous and muddy.

Paddon and Marshall complete reconnaissance for the 318.43km of competition this week and will get a better idea of likely road conditions for the event.

''We tested in dry conditions, but it could go either way for the rally,'' Paddon said.

''Regardless there will still be damp/slippery sections under the trees, but slightly drier conditions would mean we are less disadvantaged on day one, so that's what we are hoping for.''

A key change is the organisers' ability to close public roads and therefore link traditional gravel stage with short asphalt sections to create lengthier tests.

Competitors also tackle a complete asphalt stage - the 8.03km Great Orme Llandudno special stage - twice on gravel tyres.

''It will be great to finish with this spectacular tarmac stage around the northern corner of Wales, dropping into the town centre where the stage finishes, and podium celebrations take place. It's a very nice way to finish the rally,'' Paddon said.

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