New Zealand Rally Champion Hayden Paddon and co-driver John Kennard are buzzing ahead of their first attempt at World Championship (WRC) Repco Rally Australia, which is also the final for the 2009 Pirelli Star Driver Scholarship (PSD). The Geraldine based team will be the only New Zealand team in this year’s PSD final.
Described as a once in a lifetime opportunity for any budding young rally driver, Hayden and Team Green cross the Tasman with great anticipation and a huge will to win. The PSD, put together in 2008, gives five drivers from around the world a drive in six World Championship events the following season, with the programme fully funded by Pirelli and valued at over one million dollars.
“The Pirelli Star Driver Scholarship is massive, an opportunity that does not come along very often. It has always been my dream and goal to become a World Rally Champion and an opportunity like this is the best jump start towards my goal. There is no prize for second in this sport, so it will be 110% attack from the moment we set foot on Australian soil.”
After missing out on the inaugural PSD in Malaysia last year, Hayden is more determined than ever to put things right in conditions that should be not at all dissimilar to New Zealand.
“Last year was a huge disappointment, but I am also a believer in things happening for a reason. Since last year we have developed the car and my driving to a point where we are a lot further ahead now than we were this time last year, and I am confident that we have a good chance. I am also realistic that the competition will be tough, but all I am focused on is our own event and making no mistakes.”
Stiff competition is expected from three local teams, as well as teams from China and Thailand. Unfortunately young Australian Brendan Reeves, who put up an excellent performance on New Zealand’s round of the Asia Pacific Championship, NAC Rally Whangarei, and who would have been a strong competitor, has had to withdraw from the competition after injuries sustained in a recent Australian rally.
“The opposition is a bit of an unknown. We have competed against a couple of the Aussies before, but to be perfectly honest all I am worried about is our own performance. When we are out there on the competitive stages it is just the road, the clock, John and me, so they are the main elements that I am focused on!”
“The whole team has put in a lot of effort for this event, from organising the logistics to preparing the car. I have also focused more on the set-up of the car over the past few months, to get it to the point now where it is very easy and predictable to drive. It will be close, so every corner of every stage will count!”
The scoring structure for PSD is also unique, with the competition taken over only the first 9 stages of the 31 stage event. On each stage points are awarded for the first five competitors and rather than accumulated time at the end, results are based on accumulated points. In addition to the on track results, performance off the track will also be evaluated, including personal presentation, media skills and how drivers conduct themselves.
“Rallying is so much more than just what you do behind the wheel and to be a champion in any discipline you have to be the complete package. With the event only being held over the first 9 stages, it will be very much a sprint event. However 7 of those 9 stages are held with no servicing, so preserving the car in the rougher sections may also come into it.”
This year’s WRC round in Australia, which in the past has been based out of Perth, will for the first time be held in New South Wales, using roads that have not been used for rallying before. The event also incorporates many short stages, making it something of a sprint rally.
“For us it is great that it is an all new event for two reasons; firstly it removes a lot of the local advantage of having used the roads before, meaning that we can be on an even footing with the Aussies, and also that we have traditionally written really good pace notes on new pieces of road. This will be crucial, especially when we will be attacking right from the outset” says Hayden.
At the conclusion of the 9 special stages counting toward the Pirelli Star Driver Scholarship, Team Green will continue to compete in the remaining three days of event, pitting themselves against the best drivers from all around the world.
“First and foremost we are focused on the PSD. At the conclusion of that we will shift our focus to the remainder of the event and to being competitive with the fastest Group N drivers from around the world. This year we do not have the disadvantage we had last year of having not used the Pirelli Scorpion control tyre that others have been using all year, so with recent testing I feel we can set some very competitive times.”
“I really am buzzing for the event; something I have been waiting for all year. I can assure you that we are going over there with one thing in mind ? to win!” concludes Hayden.
The event kick starts with two days of reconnaissance next Tuesday and
Wednesday, followed by a shakedown stage and media day on Thursday.
The event proper then gets underway with two tarmac super special stages on Thursday evening, 3 September, before an early start on Friday when 3 full days of gravel competition lie ahead.
The team would also like to thank their loyal supporters and sponsors for their continued support including Paddon Direct, EDL Fasteners, Rally Tours, Dunlop Tyres, FMG, Endless Brakes, Castrol oils, Hella, Teng Tools, Bluebridge Ferry’s, Resene Automotive Paints, Murray Coote Suspension, In-Tune Automotive, Vicarage Lane Wines, Northend Ford, Total Automotive, Pope Print, ZM, Steelplus, Andar the Front Store and Timaru Signs.
For more information on Hayden Paddon you can contact him on +64 27
318 1748 or visit the website, http://www.hayden-paddon.com
PHOTOS In action ? Allan MacDonald (Macspeed Photography) and APSM.tv
More information and results can be found at: