11 Oct 2016

Paddon and Kennard race to century

12:19 pm on 11 October 2016

The rally combination of Hayden Paddon and John Kennard will chalk up a century of competitions together at this weekend's Rally of Spain.

Paddon and Kennard have forged a strong partnership that started in 2006 when Paddon was just 18 and competing in his first New Zealand national rally championship season.

Eleven years on and the pair have enjoyed plenty of success including winning the Production World Rally Championship title in 2011 and their first WRC rally win in Argentina this year.

Hayden Paddon and John Kennard contest the 2015 Rally of Spain.

Hayden Paddon and John Kennard contest the 2015 Rally of Spain. Photo: @World/Vettas Media

"It's been an incredible journey with John over the last 11 years and it's amazing to hit the century," says the 29-year-old Paddon.

"Who would have thought after John first got in the car with me when I was 18 to 'just see how it goes' that it has taken the path it has?"

Blenheim-based Kennard, is the oldest co-driver in the WRC at the age of 57.

Haydon Paddon (right) and John Kennard at the WRC Rally of Spain last year.

Haydon Paddon (right) and John Kennard. Photo: Photosport

"When we started this project with Hayden, we all only had dreams about how far we could take it, but, in the end, hard work and determination from so many people, plus sometimes Hayden's sheer bloody-mindedness to succeed, have brought it close to fruition and, for me it's just fantastic to still be here contesting our 100th rally together."

It will be the fourth time Paddon has competed in the Rally of Spain which is a combination of gravel on one day one and tarseal on two others.

"It's a special event as this is where we debuted in a WRC car three years ago. It's also the rally on which we won our first stage in WRC [in 2014] so John and I have many good memories here," says Paddon.

"I really enjoy that it's the only mixed surface event on the calendar. Naturally I enjoy the day one gravel stages, but the tarmac stages here are some of the nicest in the world. They're as close as you get to circuit racing in rallying.

"It's good that the rally starts with gravel. Hopefully this will allow us to build some momentum and go into the weekend's tarmac stages with good confidence. We had a really good test on gravel last week so hopefully we can make the most of that."

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-RNZ