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Rally: Paddon in familar territory for championship finale

 

For the first time this season, Paddon Direct Team Green driver Hayden Paddon is on familiar territory, where he hopes to wrap up the Junior and Rookie titles.

After 5 gruelling months and 5 rallies throughout the country, the New Zealand rally championship visits Nelson this weekend, for the 6th and final round of this years championship. Although the overall title was decided at the previous rally, there are still other various championships up for grabs including both the Junior and Rookie titles.

For the first time this season, Paddon Direct Team Green driver Hayden Paddon is on familiar territory, where he hopes to wrap up the Junior and Rookie titles. Currently Paddon leads the rookie standings, 24 points clear of Patrick Malley, while the roles are reversed in the junior championship, with Hayden trailing by a mere 5 points.

"It's great to be a position to take both championships after what was some what of a tough start to the year. This weekend should be a great event, and I'm sure that Patrick (Malley) and Stu (Taylor) will make it as difficult as possible for us."

Like most of the drivers in the championship, Hayden rates Nelson as one of his favourites.

"The roads are a lot faster compared to the roads up north, and much more to my liking. I think being consistent and avoiding punctures maybe the trick for a top result here, although this year's event uses a mix of new roads that haven't been used for several years which could be a lot different."

Hayden admits that one of his weak points is getting into the groove, and setting an early pace.

"I have struggled in the opening stages of the rally in the past, but with Nelson being somewhat of a sprint rally we can not avoid to be slow out of the blocks."

"It would be nice to try and challenge for a podium place this weekend, as I feel that we are now ready to take another step-up as the car and our notes are getting better and better with every outing as is my confidence in the car. But this most certainly won't be easy as this years championship is slow close and anyone of the top 8-10 teams is capable of getting onto the podium. Should make for an interesting event."

But the chance to challenge for a podium finish may just have to wait, as the team have a job on hand that must be completed first.

"As I say it would be nice to challenge for such a result, but first and foremost we are here this weekend to win our championships, so if that means that we have to hold ourselves back a bit to ensure we make it to the end, then so be it. We will assess the championships at the end of Leg
1 and decide how we will approach the final leg of the championship then."

Since arriving back home in Geraldine, the team have spent many hours on the car to ensure that they have a reliable package to give them the best possible chance.

"Once again the guys have done a awesome job, and the best way to thank them is to complete our task at hand. I can't wait to hook first gear and go out there and have some fun!"


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