Kiwi rally stars Hayden Paddon and John Kennard have wrapped up the final event of their 2012 FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship season at great pace, winning five of the final day's six stages.
Contesting the 9 to 11 November running of RACC Rally de Espana with the support of Red Bull Energy Drink, Paddon said: "Sunday's final six tarmac stages were a little shorter but still challenging, made even more difficult by the constant threat of rain. The rain never really eventuated to much, but it did make tyre choices difficult.
"We were able to set some more good stage times today, particularly on the longer stage where we took a lot of time out of the rest of the S2000 field. We were hoping to do the same on the repeated run in the afternoon, but unfortunately a puncture stopped us from doing so."
Despite Friday's disappointment of getting stuck in thick mud – in the same place that trapped WRC Mini driver Dani Sordo – which stymied Paddon's chances of taking a podium position, the 25-year-old New Zealander did win the SWRC category in 11 of the 13 stages that he completed. The majority of the stage wins were on tarmac which Paddon still regards as his least-favoured surface. The stage times set by Paddon and Kennard in their Skoda Fabia S2000 rally car regularly ranked them in the top 12 or 15 overall among the WRC cars and ahead of benchmark competitors Volkswagen factory drivers Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Milkenson in similar Skoda S2000 cars.
"We recovered to 20th overall by the end of Sunday. While the result was not the best, we have been happy with our speed, especially considering it has been what I would describe as a ‘risk-free' speed," says Paddon.
"So that's the end of the 2012 World Rally Championship and, in all honesty, it is a season that I am happy to see the back of after a series of set-backs throughout the year. However, I have learnt a lot and we have been able to set some good stage times on all rallies that we have competed in.
"I'd like to add my huge appreciation to our supporters group that travelled here to Spain to be with us. It has been a real boost having their support and seeing the New Zealand flag waving on the stages. Thanks also our team Baumschlager Rallye & Racing (BRR), our shareholders and everyone who has supported John and me in our SWRC campaign this year."
Paddon and the team at Hayden Paddon RallySport Global now continue to work hard on plans for 2013.
"In terms of our plans for next year, it is still a work-in-progress. I hope that our speed this weekend has helped, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done."
Paddon returns to New Zealand later this month.
Paddon's 2012 season has been supported by Red Bull Energy Drink, PlaceMakers, Giltrap Group, Skoda, Z Energy, ENZED, ATEED, GO Rentals, Cameron Sea and Airfreight, Granger Design, Raiseys, New Balance, Pope Print, Racetech, Chicane Racewear, Endless Brake Pads, 1 Group web design, Brita Safety, Rally Tours, MAK-Corp, EPS International, Saddle Hill Quarries, Monit Rally Computers, Bluebridge Ferries, Stadium Finance, and Ewing Engineering Contractors.
Hayden Paddon RallySport shares news, images and results via the team's website www.haydenpaddon.com where fans can also subscribe for regular email updates and find links to the team's Twitter and Facebook pages.