The driver leading championships on either side of the world

Hayden Paddon currently leads both the European and New Zealand Rally Championships two rounds into each

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Probably best not ask Hayden Paddon the time of day right now. As you read this, he’s doing recce having just completed a third trip from one side of planet earth to the other in 10 days.

Auckland to Las Palmas to Whangarei to Poland.

Morning Mikołajki. Or is it afternoon?

“Get on the plane and set your watch to where you’re going,” Paddon told DirtFish, “that’s the key.”

It’s clearly working. The Hyundai New Zealand star is leading championships either side of the equator on continents at the top and bottom of the world.

Mads Ostberg and Hayden Paddon

Victory on last weekend’s Rally Whangarei has set him up perfectly for this weekend’s European Rally Championship qualifier.

“We’re feeling good,” he said. “We’ve had a very good start to the year, so we’re trying to carry this momentum on and bring home another podium [in Poland] this week.”

Paddon and co-driver John Kennard are leading the New Zealand Championship in a Hyundai i20 N Rally2 for the first time (they’d previously used their own Paddon Rally Group engineered i20 AP4). Running the same specification at either end of the earth is good for the one-time world rally winner.


Paddon added: “It’s obviously positive for us that we’re getting as much seat time as we can in the same model of Hyundai, but in terms of the road surface and the feeling we’ll have in the car in Poland, it will be quite different to Whangarei.”

Talking of Whangarei, the Kiwis delivered another crushing victory at home. They won all 18 of the famous North Island stages.

“I’m really pleased to take maximum points in the championship, seeing as we’re missing the next round in South Canterbury,” Paddon said. “We just tried to keep our noses clean and have a good rally, so we’ve ticked all the boxes on that front.

“We got a couple of stage records, which is nice, but with heavy rain in the region last week, it didn’t allow for the roads to be in the best condition – plus we were chasing every point on offer and needed a clean rally.”

Paddon was quick to praise his South Island-based PRG team after another home win.

He concluded: “The whole team did an amazing job as they continue to do at every rally with our car and our PRG customer cars. Our team is gelling well and it’s a pleasure to be part of it.”

Rally Poland starts with a qualifying stage on Friday before a ceremonial start and superspecial stage close to the service park in Mikołajki. Saturday includes two loops of three stages with another superspecial in the evening. Sunday is two loops of four stages to total 113 competitive miles.