Hayden Paddon and co-driver John Kennard have extended their lead at the top of the European Rally Championship by finishing second in Rally Islas Canarias overnight.
The result for the Kiwi never looked in doubt, with eventual winner Yoann Bonato showing he is a true master on the asphalt to take victory over the Paddon-driven BRC Racing Team Hyundai i20 N Rally2 by 36.9 seconds. Third-placed Spanish driver Efrén Llarena came home in third, 16 seconds off Paddon and Kennard.
There was no stopping Bonato, however, the French driver immediately getting to work to take the first three stages of Day 3, which included a mammoth effort through the 27.74-kilometre Moya – Valleseco SS9 in trying conditions, where he extended his lead over the Kiwis to 32 seconds.
The timings were much closer over the rest of the runs in mixed weather conditions, Paddon never letting up to comfortably hold second overall at the conclusion of SS13.
“The most difficult thing was the tyre decision when the weather is so changeable,” said Paddon. “If you’re not in the championship hunt, you can take a risk [with the tyre choice], but we had to cover every eventuality, and that meant it was a compromise.
“We took the safe option. We dropped a lot of time on the second stage [of the morning] but, to be honest, we were never chasing Yoann today anyway and were happy to maintain position. The car was perfect, and this is a good result.”
Paddon now returns to New Zealand, where he’ll compete with Kennard in next weekend’s International Rally Whangarei driving their Hyundai i20n Rally2 car.
They’ll then immediately jet back to Europe for Rally Poland on May 19-21 to further extend their European Rally Championship lead.