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Paddon aiming for Otago podium


Rising star Hayden Paddon says he has become confident in his left-hand drive Lancer Evo 9 and his aim now is to win rallies.

Mitsubishi young gun Hayden Paddon says he’s now feeling completely comfortable with his new left-hand drive Lancer Evo 9, and the goal now is to win rallies.

Speaking before the start of this morning’s first leg of the Otago rally, Paddon said that during today’s seven special stages his mission will be to try to take the challenge to series leader Richard Mason, and finish the day on the podium.

Paddon says he’s now done more than 500km in the left-hook Lancer and after contesting the Timaru Rally between round one of the NZ championship in Wairarapa and this weekend’s second round, he’s feeling much more confident with the car.

“At Wairarapa during the first day I was having to think about where to position the right-front of the car.”

Steering from the left-hand side of the car he had initially found it hard to judge where to place the Lancer for right-hand corners.

“It’s now coming along, and (placing the car) is now a lot more natural. It doesn’t seem to be a problem.”

Paddon says getting used to the left-steer Lancer was always going to be a matter of time, but “I underestimated how long it was going to take.”

He says he likes the Otago roads, with their blind crests and high speeds.

“They’re similar to up at home (he comes from Geraldine in South Canterbury). They’re fast and cresty, and I always enjoy the fast stuff.”

His eyes light up when he looks forward to the challenges of the new stages north of Dunedin in tomorrow’s second heat of the Otago Rally.

The roads are filled with blind crests, big drops and often high speeds.

“It’s something a bit different. (The roads are) fast and then tighten over hills – all sorts. You’ll have to change your rhythm during the stages as well.”

But that’s tomorrow. Today is about taking the fight to Mason and trying to get atop the Leg 1 podium.

“We’re at the point now where the aim is always to try to win.”

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