Hayden Paddon gets new co-driver for WRC Rally Portugal
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Hayden Paddon has a major change inside his Hyundai i20 WRC car for this week's Rally Portugal.
His usual co-driver, John Kennard, has been sidelined due to aggravating a hip injury, so Paddon called in Kennard's eventual replacement, Englishman Seb Marshall, earlier than expected.
Paddon wished Kennard a speedy recovery and vowed his absence would not slow him down.
''Seb is naturally very excited to get in the car and we have been working well together, so I'm confident that this will not affect our rally.''
After a day of recce this week on the technical and tricky gravel roads based around Matosinhos, near Porto, in the north of Portugal, Paddon was pleased with Marshall's dedication to his new role.
''As a lot of stages have changed this year it also means some more work with writing and reviewing pacenotes, but Seb is doing a perfect job,'' he said.
Marshall will take over from Kennard permanently after July's Rally Finland.
The 19-stage 349.17km Portugal event begins on Friday morning (NZT) at a rallycross circuit and ends on Monday.
The final day includes a double pass over the infamous 11.18km Fafe stage, which features ''some of the biggest jumps we see in the whole championship'' and correspondingly huge crowds, Paddon said.
The sandy roads ensure grip is at a premium for the early starters during the first pass through the stages.
Rocks and deep ruts present an altogether different hazard for the second pass, often requiring teams to raise the ride height on their cars to avoid mechanical damage.
Paddon will be searching for that fine line between allowing the result arrive of its own accord and over-driving.
''I feel things are on an upward swing and rather than going into the rally to chase a result, we will drive at a good level and let the result come to us, especially as we have a lower starting position for Friday [an advantage if it stays dry], so we need to let this help us organically.
''Often, if we are too determined or fired up, we can tend to over-drive.
''And over-driving ultimately means slower times,'' he said.
In his favour are the special memories created at this event back in 2011, when he had his first Production World Rally Championship win outside New Zealand.