How have you prepared for Brother Rally New Zealand and how ready are you? “As we have not done an event in the WRC since Portugal, the gap has not been so ideal. We did do the Otago Classic Rally in a BDA Escort a few weeks ago, which was a lot of fun, but time has been spent working hard on funding. Our Skoda has just arrived to NZ and we will have a small test, the SWRC/PWRC test near Huntly south of Auckland, this Sunday to get some time behind the wheel. We do not have the budget for a lot of testing, so I have been studying a lot of onboard footage from Portugal as we are still trying to find a good balance with the car set-up.”
With no championship leader Craig Breen in New Zealand you’ve got a great chance to move to the top of the standings. What would this mean to you on home soil and how much extra pressure does this put on your shoulders? “Yes strong points here would put us in a good position in the championship, but it does not really add any pressure as we are too early in the season yet. Our only focus for this event will be to win SWRC and get a top 10 overall finish.”
Given your knowledge of the stages do you consider yourself to be the clear favourite or do you expect a close fight with your rivals? “It is nice to being doing an event for a change where I know the roads well, and looking forward to driving a great car on the best rallying roads in the world. There will be a lot of competition, particularly from P-G Andersson, who showed in the APRC round in Whangarei earlier this year that he is quick on these roads.”
Sebastien Ogier has been a regular point-scorer in his S2000 Skoda this season. How much of a target are overall points for you in New Zealand? “It is a blow for us that Ogier is not competing here as it would have been good to challenge him on our home turf. While the SWRC is the main priority, it is also very important that we can challenge Sebastien.”
Visit soon for Paddon’s thoughts on winning the SWRC in New Zealand, the wintry weather conditions, mastering the cambered roads and the prospects of a tough opening day to the event a week on Friday.