Hayden Paddon and John Kennard have been caught out by the tricky conditions at the final round of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), the RACC Rally de Espana, with heavy overnight rain making the stages slippery.
The event, held in Salou in the north of Spain from November 8-11, forced many drivers into an early retirement on Friday, including Paddon who got stuck in thick mud five kilometres into the third stage of the day after a minor error.
“The conditions were very tricky and with all of the overnight rain and it just turned the roads into a mud bog,” explained a disappointed Paddon.
“Mini WRC driver, Dani Sordo was also stuck on the same corner as us, and we just couldn’t get the car out despite still having three wheels on the road.”
Fortunately, the Skoda suffered no damage as a result of the incident and Paddon will re-join the rally on Saturday under the Rally2 rules.
Irishman Craig Breen, who currently leads the Super 2000 World Rally Championship (SWRC), holds first place in the category at RACC Rally de Espana, heading into day two.
Paddon says he will push hard over the final two days, to challenge his SWRC rivals for top stage times.
“It’s not a lost opportunity and we will do what we came here to do, and that is set fastest stage times,” Paddon adds.
The Skoda-driving team were duelling with Breen in the first two tests and are set to challenge the Irishman for the remainder of the event.
The weather is predicted to improve for the final two days in Spain, with stages based solely on tarmac meaning the conditions are likely to be much more consistent for the crews.
Although Paddon says that tyre choice will be critical for the remaining 255.24 kilometres of timed special stages, held west of Salou and could be a deciding factor for the rally.
Paddon and the New Zealand World Rally Team appreciate the support of the following organisations: Red Bull Energy Drink, PlaceMakers, Giltrap Group, Skoda, Z Energy, ENZED, ATEED, GO Rentals, Cameron Sea and Airfreight, Granger Design, Raiseys, New Balance, Pope Print, Racetech, Chicane Racewear, Endless Brake Pads, 1 Group web design, Brita Safety, Rally Tours, MAK-Corp, EPS International, Saddle Hill Quarries, Monit Rally Computers, Bluebridge Ferries, Stadium Finance, and Ewing Engineering Contractors.