New Zealand world champion rally drivers Hayden Paddon and John Kennard have completed reconnaissance for Wales Rally GB and are keen to get underway in their fifth World Rally Championship event for 2012.
Paddon is competing for points in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship, the second tier of the WRC, where he's currently second by just six points to Swedish driver Per-Gunnar Andersson.
The 25-year-old Kiwi is also out to demonstrate his competitive pace against the two Volkswagen Motorsport competitors, Kevin Abbring and Sébastien Ogier, who drive similar Skoda Fabia S2000s as part of VW's WRC acclimatisation programme. Abbring and Ogier are not part of the Super 2000 championship, but provide a key benchmark for Paddon and Kennard, his Blenheim-based co-driver.
During Wednesday's shakedown run, Paddon was at the wheel of his Skoda Fabia rally car for the first time since Rally Finland at the beginning of August.
From Thursday evening's opening ceremony in the north of Wales, Paddon said: “Our preparations for Rally GB have gone well this week and we're now really looking forward to getting into the rally. After arriving here in Wales on Monday we have had two days of recce to get our pace notes sorted for the rally. We have notes for about half the stages while the other stages are similar to what we have done in the past but just in a different configuration.
“I have never seen the stages here in such good condition and with the warmer weather that they have had here recently, the roads are a lot harder based but also a lot smoother; very similar to parts of the forestry stages that we find at Otago Rally. The road condition combined with the fast nature of the roads should suit us very well.
“During shakedown I was back behind the wheel of our Skoda for the first time since Finland and it was good to be back in the seat. The feeling in the car came very quickly and we didn't have to make any changes to the car. So it was just a matter of some time in the seat.
“Everything is looking good for the rally which starts on Friday morning [UK time] and we are certainly ready. One of the biggest challenges though will be tyre choice - we have two options, hard or soft - and predicting the weather conditions.”
The rally is based in Cardiff with three days and 324.46 kilometres of competitive stages and over 1,200 kilometres of touring stages in a rally route which cover Wales from north to south.
After Wales Rally GB, Paddon remains in the UK – based in Northampton – for the reminder of the WRC season. He has two final events of the 2012 FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship season to complete, France in October and Spain in November.
Paddon's New Zealand World Rally Team is supported by 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.
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