NZ Performance Car - - Inside Line -

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.

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