Geraldine rally driver Hayden Paddon and co-driver John Kennard are headed to Europe earlier than planned with New Zealand’s top rally pairing now scheduled to contest the Ypres Rally in Belgium at the end of this month.
Paddon had previously confirmed they would contest August’s two World Rally Championship events in Finland and Germany.
For the Ypres event they will pilot a Pirelli-equipped Ford Fiesta S2000, run by the team with which Paddon and Kennard won the 2011 FIA Production World Rally Championship, Symtech Racing. Paddon will then return to the Baumschlager Rallye and Racing team and Skoda for Rally Finland.
“Ypres is one of the biggest events on the European Rally Championship [ERC] calendar.
“The tarmac roads there will provide a challenge as they are unlike anything we have driven on. Likewise driving the Fiesta for the first time will take a little bit of adapting to. But this is all part of the process of developing myself as a driver, experiencing new events and challenging myself in different vehicles,” Paddon said.
Based in the northwest Belgian town of Ypres, the 59-year-old rally typically features 120 competitors from around 16 different countries.
“It’s a challenging tarmac event where the locals are renowned for being very fast. From the footage I have seen, it looks like an enjoyable, very fast tarmac rally.”
Paddon and Kennard will now miss the Daybreaker Rally in Feilding, a NZ Rally Championship event, as it falls on the same weekend as the Ypres Rally, nor will they compete in August’s Canterbury Rally.