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Paddon secures history making ERC title despite event retirement

Hayden Paddon has become the first driver from outside Europe to win the European Rally Championship title despite crashing out of last weekend’s penultimate round in the Czech Republic.

Hayden Paddon, John Kennard, BRC Racing Hyundai i20 N Rally2

Paddon and co-driver John Kennard headed into the asphalt rally equipped with a 55-point lead over nearest rival Martins Sesks after scoring a win in the season opener in Portugal followed by four second place finishes and a third.

A top five finish at the Barum Czech Rally Zlín would have been enough secure the title.

The former factory Hyundai World Rally Championship pairing were sitting fourth before collecting a tree on stage nine, causing terminal damage to their BRC Racing i20 N Rally2 machine.

However, ERC regulations state that competitors must drop their worst result for the final calculation of championship points.

Paddon’s retirement from this rally made it the result to drop and put the onus on Sesks to earn at least 20 points to take the title fight to October’s finale in Hungary.

In the end, Sesks could only finish 12th, which was enough to hand Paddon and Kennard the championship.

Hayden Paddon, John Kennard, BRC Racing Hyundai i20 N Rally2

Hayden Paddon, John Kennard, BRC Racing Hyundai i20 N Rally2

Photo by: Paddon Racing Group

“This rally can’t be underestimated and while, in the end, it didn’t go quite as we’d have liked, we’ve learned a lot and if we can come back next year, we’d be in a much stronger position than we were when we started here this year,” said Paddon.

“Sure, it wasn’t quite how we planned to secure the title, but in terms of championship wins this is our biggest achievement so far.

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“It’s a season’s worth of work, not just one rally, here in Europe and back at home with both team and for John and me.

“We’re proud to bring this one home and it’s the result of six really good ERC rallies in a row. That put us in a good position to have a bad round, so all in all, looking at the season as a whole, we can be proud of the results.

“They’ve [BRC Racing] been incredible to work with. Thanks also to John who’s made a big commitment to be part of this and our sponsors and fans back home. It’s an awesome result for everyone involved and hopefully it’s something we can build on in the future.”

Paddon will now return home to continue his New Zealand Rally Championship campaign.

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