PADDON AND KENNARD PART WAYS
After 12 years together, Hayden Paddon and co-driver John Kennard have made the decision that John will step down from his World Rally Championship (WRC) co-driving duties after this year’s Rally Finland on July 27–30.
Paddon said in a personal statement, “There was never going to be an easy time, but, with an eye towards the future, we both knew the change had to happen at some point. I can’t thank John enough for his commitment to the sport and as my co-driver and friend. He [John] has played a huge role both in and out of the car. Together we achieved a lot [and] what some people thought was not possible … but it’s not ending here; John will remain a part of our journey, helping behind the scenes, and keep working with me towards our ultimate dream. John, we salute you.”
Kennard’s co-driving career began in 1985. He switched to a management role in 1990 — first as team co-ordinator for Mitsubishi Japan, then, from 1995 until the turn of the millennium, in a similar role for Prodrive’s Subaru World Rally team. He then spent a year managing Mitsubishi’s rally programme in the US. Kennard returned to New Zealand for what was supposed to be a quieter time, but a chance introduction to Hayden Paddon in 2005 changed that. The pair went on to win the New Zealand Rally Championship in 2008 and 2009, before winning the Production WRC title after taking four straight wins in 2011, and then famously becoming the first Kiwi pairing to win a WRC, taking victory at Rally Argentina in the middle of last year. A very well-deserved retirement from co-driving; well done, John.