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New Zealand rally driver Hayden Paddon finished fourth in Rally Poland overnight on July 5. Alongside co-driver John Kennard, taking fourth place comes after Paddon’s brilliant podium placing at Rally Sardenia in June.
In their Hyundai i20, the pairing were in the top seven for the majority of the rally, having held fifth position since the end of day one. After a solid day two and three, Paddon looked a sure bet to finish the rally in fifth. But a crash for the fourth-placed Jari-Matti Latvala during the final stage promoted the Kiwi drivers to fourth. This led to Paddon finishing the rally 1min 14.6s behind winner Sebastian Ogier, and ten seconds ahead of Latvala.
“To come away with a top-five result is very pleasing to follow on from what we did in Sardinia, and while I’m sorry for Jari-Matti [Latvala], to finish fourth was exactly what we wanted,” said Paddon.
“It wasn’t the most straightforward rally in terms of finding a rhythm and confidence within the car on the fast gravel, but we have persevered and can be satisfied. Obviously, there’s always room for improvement and things we can do to go faster, but considering the new routes on this rally, things have gone well.
“It confirms that in quite contrasting conditions — Sardinia being the slowest gravel event of the year and Poland being the fastest — that we can be competitive up the front and gives us even more confidence moving forward. The level of competition here was very close, and, among the WRC cars, there was only one retirement all weekend.
“OK, there are still things we need to keep working on and keep improving, but we’ve made good steps in the last 12 months. Our goal was to back up the result in Sardinia by staying calm, driving fast, and consistently and making sure we got to the finish. And that’s what we did.”
The result helps Paddon improve from ninth in the overall WRC points standings to eighth, with the series now heading to Finland for round eight of the championship.