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Paddon ready for tough Mexican rally debut

NZN 3/03/2015
Hayden Paddon and John Kennard compete during Day One of the WRC Great Britain on November 14, 2014. © Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images Hayden Paddon and John Kennard compete during Day One of the WRC Great Britain on November 14, 2014.

WELLINGTON, NZN - The switch from snow to gravel is a welcome one but New Zealand driver Hayden Paddon still has plenty to get his head around before contesting Rally Mexico.

Paddon and co-driver John Kennard are coming off a fifth-place finish at Rally Sweden three weeks ago, pleased to lodge World Rally Championship points for their Hyundai Motorsport team in the difficult, wintry conditions.

It was the second round of the championship but the first drive of the year for the Kiwi pair after they sat out the opener in Monaco.

Paddon says the unfamiliarity of Rally Mexico was presenting Kennard and him with myriad of challenges ahead of the first stage on Thursday.

The fast, technical event has a developed reputation for its high attrition rate.

The heat, altitude and long stages will all take some adjusting to, Paddon said.

"It will be good being back on the gravel, but our biggest challenge is that this will be our first time doing this event.

"Even though we did recce here last year, that familiarity which other competitors have with this route will be a hard gap to bridge."

He has been preparing in similar conditions in Spain and re-adjusting to driving his regular i20 car after stepping into teammate Dani Sordo's vehicle in Sweden. Spaniard Sordo has recovered from a rib injury.

"Being back in our car means we have full flexibility again with the settings on the car," Paddon said.

"As always we will be competing primarily with our teammates, so that's the first target."

Hyundai are second in the manufacturers championship after two of 13 rounds.

Volkswagen Motorsport lead thanks to victory in Monte Carlo and Sweden for two-time defending WRC champion Sebastien Ogier of France.

The four-day, 24-stage rally is hosted in Leon, 400km north-west of Mexico City.

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