Video: Kiwis Hayden Paddon and John Kennard have won the Production car World Rally Championship category at Rally Argentina and go to the top of the PWRC leader-board, sharing the top spot with Czech driver Martin Semerád (Mitsubishi), despite having competed in one less event
Paddon finished the event with a 7 minute, 50.3s margin over second-placed PWRC competitor Patrik Flodin from Sweden .
The production car class win in Argentina is Paddon’s second this season, after the Kiwi won the PWRC category in Portugal by the largest-ever margin in the history of this class. In the overall standings in Argentina , Paddon was ninth, which also earned him two prestigious World Rally Championship points.
“It has been a fantastic weekend and a huge credit to the team who have helped us to win this rally by keeping the car going,” said Paddon. “It is much more than we were expecting for this rally and it is the perfect start to our championship.
The 24-year-old from Geraldine added: “Now to be the joint leader of the Production car World Rally Championship and with one extra round up our sleeves compared to Martin Semerád – that’s just fantastic!”
Paddon and Kennard were the surprise PWRC leaders after running third for much of the first day of the notoriously tough Argentinean event. But when early front-runners Flodin and Michel Kosciuszko, from Poland , dropped out with mechanical issues, Paddon had the overnight lead to start day two with a 7 minute, 17.9 second advantage over the second-placed driver Argentine Alejandro Levy
Throughout the first two days Paddon was dealing with ongoing power issues in his Subaru, “one of these small niggling problems that the team worked overtime to fix”, yet continued on the second day with a relatively steady pace while managing to increase his leading margin to exactly eight minutes over Flodin who moved into second place.
Regarding Sunday’s final day of just four stages, Paddon commented: “Overnight the team was able to fix the power issues that have been plaguing us since stage one of the rally, and today the car was perfect and had full power which made a big difference.
“It was basically a matter of cruising and getting through to the finish. The day’s itinerary included the monster 48km stage made even more difficult by extremely thick fog at the top of the mountains, but we took it easy and got through the stage unscathed. The final few stages were short publicity stages and we were able to win two of them.”
Paddon adds: “Thank you to everyone that has made this possible for us, I couldn't have asked for anymore, and a huge thank you to the whole Symtech team who did an amazing job all week on one of the toughest events that I have ever done.
“I didn’t come here to win and to come away with maximum points is great for the championship. Performance-wise it hasn’t been completely satisfying, having to contend with the rocky roads and power issues, but overall it’s a great result for the team. There’s still a long way to go this season and we need to take it one round at a time, but it’s absolutely fantastic.”
Paddon and Kennard return to New Zealand this week, ready to contend the International Rally of Whangarei, an event they have won three times previously. In New Zealand, the pair pilots another Subaru and make the most of the opportunity to get more competitive kilometres and further develop both their New Zealand and Europe-based Subaru rally cars. Immediately after the 15 to 17 July Whangarei event, they head to their next PWRC round in Finland in late July. This year’s programme also includes PWRC events in Australia , Spain and Great Britain .
1 H. PADDON 4:29:40.7 2 P. FLODIN +7:50.3 3 D. TAGIROV +5:36.5 4 N. FUCHS +4:45.5 5 M. SEMERAD +4:03.4 6 B. GUERRA +1:00.6 7 E. CAMPOS +1:20.4 8 G. LINARI +2:35.2 9 Y. PROTASOV 32.8 10 M. KOSCIUSZKO 39.2 11 H. HUNT +7:09.6