Hayden Paddon and John Kennard have secured third place at Rally Poland, the first time the Kiwis have finished on this step of the podium.
Third place in Poland represents the third podium finish in the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship for the New Zealanders who also finished second in Sweden and won in Argentina. The result also moves Paddon into third place in the WRC drivers’ championship.
“We’re really happy to come home with a podium,” said Paddon who finished just 2.3 seconds behind Ott Tanak after 21 competitive stages, who dropped to second with a puncture after leading for most of the rally, handing Andres Mikkelsen the win.
“It obviously got pretty close there at the end,” he added referring to Hyundai Motorsport team-mate Thierry Neuville finishing a mere 0.8 seconds behind in fourth. “Our objective today was to secure third position rather than push for second, so we wanted to be relaxed. I think we probably eased off too much. Third is a great result, irrespective of how close it was - just 0.8 seconds!”
The seventh WRC round of the year wrapped with a wet and slippery morning of action on Sunday (CEST), in contrast to the warm, sunny summer conditions of the previous three days. The WRC competitors run in reverse classification order which put Paddon and Kennard 13th on the road.
“They were very, very tricky conditions and it was very hard to judge your speed,” Paddon said, having set the fifth quickest time in all four Sunday stages. “The rain made the stages very slippery and overall today was tricky, having to try and control the position, but in the end we got good points and got the result.
“So that’s our first third place and it takes a huge amount of weight of my shoulders after what’s happened recently. The result gives us really good confidence moving forward and I’m really happy to get things back on track.
“Huge thanks to the team and congratulations to everyone on a job well done. It’s been a good three days of rallying. We’re really looking to Finland now, a rally that suits us more and a rally that we enjoy.”
Paddon’s third place gives Hyundai Motorsport its second ever Rally Poland podium, following a top-three for Neuville back in 2014.