News: Haydon Paddon proves unstoppable in Rally of Otago victory

Haydon Paddon has become a unstoppable force in NZ Rallying circles and has just finished a domination of the Rally of Otago to take maximum national championship points from both Saturday and Sunday’s competition.

Paddon had a comfortable 93 seconds victory on Saturday in the ex Possum Bourne Motorsport Subaru STI now owned by Manawatu’s Robbie Leicester, over defending champion Dean Sumner.

Sunday was not so clear cut, edging out Sumner again, but this time by just 3.5 seconds.

Saturday’s success was set up with a committed display of night driving on Friday night, taking a 40 seconds lead over Emma Gilmour’s similar Impreza STI in three stages.

With co-driver John Kennard, Paddon extended that advantage by another 50 seconds during Saturday.

However Sunday’s win was a juggling act. In the warmer, drier, dusty conditions, tyre wear with the medium compound rubber the team was using became a factor.

But Paddon and Kennard got the equation right, finishing the last long 45 kms stage in the Berwick Forest, south of Dunedin with no tread left on the front tyres.

“The whole team has done a great job with a car they are not used to,” said Paddon. “And it’s a huge thanks to Robbie Leicester for providing his car.”

Paddon has also had to juggle which side of the car he is sitting on in his first two outings in a Subaru. When he won the production class at the Portugal round of the World Rally Championship a fortnight ago, Paddon was using a left hand drive Subaru STI provided by the Symtech team from Belgium.

At Dunedin it was back to a more usual right hand drive car.

“I’ve swopped between right and left hand drive before,” said Paddon, “so it wasn’t too much of a problem.”

Paddon has a 20 points lead in the national championship over Sumner. His next planned outing is the Argentina round of the World Rally Championship, when he will be back in the seat of the left hand drive STI run by the Belgian Symtech team.

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