Breen scoops Ireland victory
Abu Dhabi Total team driver impresses on home ground
Paddon and his WRC co-driver John Kennard were on home turf to launch the new car which was developed in partnership with Hyundai New Zealand. The pair blitzed the New Zealand Rally Championship field to win the two-day 40th anniversary Otago Rally by 9m22.1s from defending NZRC champion Ben Hunt in a Subaru WRX STi.
“It was pretty much the perfect debut for the new Hyundai,” said Paddon. “If anything, it probably exceeded my expectations. The base of the car is very good. Our team worked very long hours coming up to the rally getting the car ready, and even right up to shakedown we were having problems so they were able to get on top on those right before the start of the rally which was great.”
Paddon believes there’s more speed to come from the 1.8-litre, turbocharged i20 car, the chassis of which has been built to new AP4 (Asia Pacific) regulations.
“I think as a starting base, it couldn’t be much better. As a rally driver, you want to be going as fast as you can – of course I love the speed and the speed you can carry through the corners in this car is quite impressive. We’re not trying to build or design a WRC car here, so it’s not at that level, but as a value for money package, you simply can’t get any better."
Paddon and Kennard return to WRC duties at Rally Argentina, 21-24 April, before flying back to New Zealand to contest the 29 April-1 May running of the International Rally of Whangarei in their i20 rally car.
Former WRC works-team driver Markko Martin won the rally's classic category. Driving a Ford Escort RS1800 for only the second time, and for the first time on gravel, the Estonian and his co-driver Stéphane Prévot led from start to finish.