Rising rally star Hayden Paddon rates his fourth place overall in the Hawke's Bay Rally a success, despite some setbacks.
After setting a string of top six stage times on Leg 1, Paddon was running a comfortable sixth when a blown rear diff in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 cost him 30 seconds on the day's last special stage.
However, he managed to hang on to sixth, coming home one second ahead of fellow Evo 9 driver Stewart Taylor.
“It was a great day, and once again we learnt a lot more about tyres and car set-up," said the South Canterbury teenager.
"Sure, the diff problem was a bad way to finish off the day, but nevertheless we still ended up with a great result.”
The car was repaired overnight, and despite a damaged centre diff, Paddon set the fifth fastest time on the opening test.
The day had its dramas, though, and a spin into a fence cost Paddon more than 20 seconds.
“It was a twisty part of the stage," he said. "And I simply went into the corner too hot and the back spun around into the fence. We were very lucky that we didn’t get stuck, and that we didn’t do more damage than just a bent steering rod.”
Going into the final 23km stage, he was seventh one tenth of a second behind Taylor.
He drove a blinder, setting third quickest time, building a 14-second gap over Taylor, and jumping to fifth for the day, and fourth overall for the weekend.
“We'd been in a tight battle with Stew all weekend, which was fantastic, and we decided we had to push in the final stage as our rookie and junior championship hopes depended on getting maximum points on both days.
“I'm now beginning to feel a lot more comfortable in the car and our pacenotes are getting better (every event).”
Paddon says he's confident he can build on his speed.
"But the most important thing at this stage is to continue to clock up points...and get valuable miles for next season.”