Hayden Paddon, with co-driver John Kennard, has taken an unexpected but valuable victory in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship in Portugal overnight.
The production world champion Kiwis looked to be out of contention on Friday when an electrical fault grounded their New Zealand World Rally Team Skoda Fabia. Restarting on Saturday, Paddon won every on of that day’s six stages to move into third in class.
Then on Sunday, Paddon and Kennard quickly moved into second place behind category leader Saudi driver Yazeed Al Rajhi. However Al Rajhi’s lead of almost nine minutes looked insurmountable for the Kiwi pair until a broken cross-member on Al Rajhi’s Ford gave Paddon the opportunity he was looking for.
“We wanted to come here to win, but we didn’t win it like we wanted to,” said Paddon who had to contend with an alternator wire fault on Sunday’s third stage before taking his first win in the SWRC category.
“We’re happy though and I’ve always said to finish first, first you have to finish. There’s a lot more to come from the car and from me. We’re looking forward to Brother Rally New Zealand for the next round in June.”
The win in Portugal – Paddon’s second event in his 2012 SWRC campaign – gives him 37 points, just six points behind SWRC championship leader Craig Breen.
Paddon’s 2012 campaign is supported by PlaceMakers, Giltrap Group, Skoda, Cameron Sea and Airfreight, Granger Design, Castrol, Raiseys, New Balance, Pope Print, Racetech, Chicane Racewear, Endless Brake Pads, 1 Group web design and Brita Safety.
Results Rally Portugal SWRC:
1. H. Paddon 4:49:41.2, 2. M. Oleksowicz +5:02.3, 3. P. Meireles +8:50.3.