Hayden Paddon and John Kennard got their Rally Spain campaign underway in Europe overnight, with the Kiwis setting the fastest time on the event’s mixed surface shakedown stage. Two-tenths of a second quicker than Sébastien Ogier’s Volkswagen Polo R on the 2.94km shakedown stage, Paddon said: “Although the stage wasn’t representative of the rally it was a good chance to check the car was working and, as we’re back on loose surfaces, to make sure the set-up from Australia is working well.”
The Kiwis, having signed a new three-year contract with Hyundai Motorsport on Monday, then put in a solid run in the event’s opening super special stage on the streets of Barcelona, which Paddon described as being fun when racing on a tarmac surface with his Hyundai i20 WRC car in gravel setup.
Posting the eighth quickest time, he said: “Big concrete walls take no prisoners. Cold brakes and tyres almost caught us out but overall no problems.”
The Kiwis are one of 14 WRC crews tackling this weekend’s Rally de España and face eight predominantly gravel stages on Friday (European time) covering 128.60km. Running in championship order, Paddon and Kennard will be eighth on the road, while world champion Sébastien Ogier will run first on the gravel stages, clearing the line for those who follow.