Lappi cools title talk ahead of R5 debut
Finn will not target WRC 2 victory this season
The 28-year-old, arguably the rookie of the season in 2014, has found the going tough so far this year in the Korean manufacturer’s i20 WRC. He and co-driver John Kennard have failed to score any points at the last two WRC events in Mexico and Argentina.
But Paddon’s confidence received a major boost at the weekend when he and Kennard won the gravel-based Otago Rally in a 40-year-old Ford Escort Mk2.
Although they were competing in the historic section of the event, they won 15 out of the 16 stages to win the New Zealand Rally Championship event outright.
The duo trailed Mitsubishi driver Phil Campbell by seven seconds going into the final 16km stage of the rally, but a spirited fight back enabled them to turn the deficit into a 2.5-second advantage at the finish line.
With Vodafone Rally de Portugal (21-24 May) less than two weeks away, Paddon was pleased to experience the thrill of winning again. He said: “It's a bonus for us. We haven't won anything in the last 18 months since we've been in the WRC so hopefully this will give us that boost we need to start turning things around this season.
“We came here for fun. We never came here chasing a win like that, but as it got close going into those last couple of stages we definitely gave it everything.”
The Otago Classic Rally has always proved a popular event with WRC drivers. Past entries have included Didier Auriol, Ari Vatanen, Hannu Mikkola and the late Björn Waldegård.
Video: Stunning onboard of Paddon flat out in the Escort on day one