Paddon ready for Rally Liepaja in brand new Hyundai i20N Rally 2 car

Hayden Paddon and John Kennard have taken possession of their team’s brand new Hyundai i20N Rally2 car ahead of the second event on their European campaign, Rally Liepaja this weekend.

Now they have joined up with other members of the Hyundai New Zealand Rally team and the tight timeline means that they are looking at this event, the Latvian round of the European Rally Championship running 1-3 July, as a test rally. They’ll try various setups and gather data about the car over the 12 special stages, as Paddon and Kennard get familiar with the freshly-built Rally2 car in preparation for their first scheduled WRC2 event in Estonia two weeks later.

“We’re excited to take delivery of the Hyundai i20 N Rally2 car in Latvia,” commented Paddon. “It was a big push by Hyundai Motorsport to get the car built in time for us, so the first opportunity for me and John to sit in it will be at shakedown for Rally Liepaja on Friday 1 July.

“We’re treating this weekend’s event in Latvia as a test rally, trying many different setups and gathering as much data as we can over the 12 special stages. We’ll still give it our best shot, but there’s a lot to learn about the car which we’d normally do on a pre-event test.

Hayden Paddon behind wheel of brand-new Hyundai i20 N Rally2 car

“It can’t be helped that there’s no time for a pre-event test in this case, and the car’s signwriting in its iconic black and white Kiwi livery will also have to wait until after this weekend’s rally. We are very much looking forward to driving the Hyundai i20 N Rally2 car and finding out more about this awesome rally car.”

Last weekend Paddon and Kennard were delighted to secure first place in the Tour European Rally (TER) Championship category at Rally di Alba in Italy’s Piedmont region on 24 and 25 June. Driving a Hyundai i20 R5 car run by Hyundai Motorsport Italy (HMI), the pair were fourth overall, just 20 seconds behind the winner after nine special stages of tarmac competition.

“It’s great to get our European tour off to a good start with fourth place, out of 250 cars, at Rally di Alba and first place in the TER category in the Hyundai i20 R5.”

With five years since Paddon last contested a tarmac rally, his expectations were modest. As the rally progressed, he was happy to get into the groove of tarmac competition once again to secure a solid result. With several top three times to their credit, the Kiwis were pleased to finish ahead of a French national and WRC2 champion and a 11-time Italian rally champion.

“The car (R5) and the road surface felt very foreign on our test day which was the same day I hopped off the plane from New Zealand. With the level of competition here in Italy we thought a top ten result would be good. However, as the rally progressed, we got more and more into a groove, setting several top three times.

“At the end, we were only 20 seconds from the lead and were pleased to finish ahead of a French national and WRC2 champion and a 11-time Italian rally champion. Overall, it was a very enjoyable weekend and big thanks to the HMI team who ran us.”

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