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Paddon eyes success at Rally 'Grand Prix'

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 26/07/2016

Expectations are high from New Zealand driver Hayden Paddon heading into a World Rally Championship round in which he feels right at home.

Paddon and co-driver John Kennard both rate Rally Finland among their favourite events because of its high speed, spectacular jumps and similarity to the roads of New Zealand.

The pair improved their Hyundai from fifth to third in the standings with a third placing in Poland four weeks ago, having failed to finish the previous two rallies.

Paddon wants to build on that at a rally dubbed the Finnish Grand Prix, due its high speeds.

"We are at that point where we expect to be competitive on all gravel events," he said.

"The atmosphere in Finland is also incredible and that makes it an unforgettable rally to be part of."

The Kiwi pair will make their seventh start together in Finland, having raced there in other group categories.

It was the only rally they failed to finish last year, adding an extra level of motivation.

Kennard is based in Finland but says he never tires of navigating its picturesque roads.

"Like Rally New Zealand, it has such a fantastic character that it completely overwhelms you, even when you've competed here many times before."

Kennard has been particularly busy this week, with nearly half of last year's course changed for this edition.

The eighth-round WRC event begins on Thursday with a street stage in Jyvaskyla before entering three days of largely forest-based stages.

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