The New Zealander, third in the PWRC standings in 2011, begins his campaign on Vodafone Rally de Portugal this week in a Symtech Racing Subaru Impreza. He is committed to a six-event programme but says he still needs more support.
Paddon is selling shares in himself to raise funds to compete this year. He said: “The response has been extremely good from back home, which is humbling considering what New Zealand has been going through with the economy and the terrible earthquake. I’ve got some directors of the company continuing to find more budget, which is great because I’ve done this on my own in the past. It’s just good to be back and in a car again because it’s been a tough few months getting everything together.”
After five seasons campaigning a Mitsubishi Lancer, Paddon says his switch to an Impreza for 2011 has gone to plan.
“We had two days in Spain last week and the car felt good,” said Paddon. “The engine was stronger than I thought it would be and it’s very well balanced in the corners. It feels good but it wasn’t easy trying to relearn everything I’ve known for five years in just two days of testing.”
Paddon is one of the favourites for the PWRC title this season and his chances received a boost when expected rivals Patrik Flodin and Anders Grondal both failed to score on the season-opener in Sweden in February.
“I’ve got a round up my sleeve but I can’t think about that too much because I’ve still got to get a result and start my season off with some points,” said Paddon.
Michael Kosciuszko is also starting his PWRC campaign in Portugal. The Polish driver has starred in the Super 2000 and Junior world championships in the past and switches to the PWRC for the first time in 2011.
“I will see after this event what my pace is like before I think about the title and I will be using my head, not my throttle on this rally because I still need experience of the car,” said Kosciuszko.