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Hayden happy to hold on to second


Hayden Paddon and co-driver John Kennard's New Zealand Rally Championship campaign started with a few niggles in Hawke's Bay as he held on for second overall after the weekend

He led out the field on Saturday in what was to become a tough day at the office. Finishing 1 minute 13 seconds behind leader Richard Mason was not ideally where he wanted to be but given the circumstances he was happy to take it.

"We struggled first thing this morning with a little air in the brake lines, making the pedal very soft down one of the steepest descents in NZ rallying. Not much fun, but then we won the second stage in Mohaka Forest, which is one of my favourite stages.

"For the remainder of the day we were faced with thick gravel covering the road, making it very difficult to drive the car smoothly while maximizing our momentum."

Prior to the last two stages Team Green was 39 seconds off the lead, but then they struck another problem - this time an overheating motor for the days final two stages.

"Not wanting to jeopardize the motor, we backed right off to avoid terminal damage and get to the finish but we did have to manage the advantage that we had over Emma (Gilmour) behind us."

The team worked hard over night to fix the Team Green Mitsubishi Evo 9 and Hayden and John started the second day well in the first forestry stage - finishing just three seconds off the stage win over 24km.

However, when they got to the public road stages with a covering of slippery gravel, it was a continuation of the grip issues they had faced on Saturday.

"The car was sliding all over the place and we were struggling to carry the car speed that we normally would through corners, but at least we know the areas that we need to improve."

Other than a small moment on the last stage in front of the TV cameras, everything went smoothly today and Hayden says the day was most enjoyable.

"Today has been another solid day, finishing second for the day and second overall behind Richard (Mason). Although things did not go to plan, all in all has been a successful weekend in getting our championship off to a good start.

"The team has put in a massive effort over the weekend and the lead up to the event so a big thanks to them all including Dad, Math, Neil, AD, Wayne, Katie, John, Mike and all our sponsors and supporters."

The next round of the championship is the Otago Rally in May, but before hand the team will have a chance to rectify the handling issues so that they can challenge for the top of the podium.

Before then Hayden will hit the international rally circuit and has the first two rounds of the Asia- Pacific Championship, starting with Rally New Caledonia this weekend (April 11 - 12).

Hayden, his father Chris and co-driver John fly out from Auckland first thing Tuesday morning and get straight into recce Wednesday and Thursday.

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