Paddon and Kennard hold fourth in opening ERC round

New Zealanders Hayden Paddon and John Kennard took a hard-fought fourth place at Rally Hungary 2024, the opening round of the 2024 FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) over the weekend, to finish 44-seconds behind te winner, Romanian Simone Tempestini.

Paddon and Kennard faced a couple of tough days on the heavily travelled roads of Rally Hungary where five different drivers headed the leaderboard across the weekend.

The pair, who are the defending ERC champions, were firmly in the top four all weekend in their BRC Racing-run Hyundai i20 Rally 2 car and climbed to second place by special stage 12, but an unfortunate puncture on the last stage dropped them back to fourth place by the finish.

“It was a weekend of what could have been,” says Paddon. “To come away with fourth obviously gives us some good points to start our championship challenge, but we were hoping for more, especially going into the last stage when we were holding second place.”

It was a test of attrition over the two days, with championship contenders Martin Sesks and Mikko Heikella both striking problems on day two. But a conservative approach gave Paddon the best opportunity for a podium. 

“Overall, it was a pretty rough, hot and demanding rally, particularly for the tyre wear, and we were struggling to keep enough tyres to last the whole rally.

“Going into the last loop on Sunday, we were getting a bit tight on keeping new tyres available, but we were managing tyre wear the best we could. Through other people’s problems, we stayed consistent and were able to get up to second. At that point, the aim was to simply try to look after that position and protect it in the last stage.

“Our main championship rivals all struck problems, and there are seven more rallies to go so we have to think about that. The next round, the Canarias Rally is only three weeks away, so we’ve just got to stay positive and try and redeem ourselves there.”

Rally Islas Canarias runs 3 to 5 May where Paddon and Kennard are again in the BRC Racing-run Hyundai i20 Rally 2 car. They then head straight back to New Zealand for round two of the New Zealand Rally Championship, Rally South Canterbury, on 11 May where Canterbury’s Jared Hudson will co-drive for Paddon.

Overall Classification:
1/ S Tempestini / S Itu ROU Škoda Fabia RS 1hr 52min 50.4sec
2/ M Franceschi / A Malfoy FRA Škoda Fabia RS +17sec
3/ M Csomós / A Nagy HUN Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo +29.9sec
4/ H Paddon / J Kennard NZL Hyundai i20 N +44.5ses
5/ E Cais / I Bagicál CZE Škoda Fabia RS +1min 44sec
6/ M Marczyk / S Gospodarczyk POL Škoda Fabia RS +1min 59.3sec

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