Pad­don de­liv­ers fourth ti­tle

The Southland Times - - Sport -

Hay­den Pad­don has never been afraid of hard work to make the dream work.

The World Rally Cham­pi­onship (WRC) driver’s work ethic was in­stalled from a young age so how he se­cured his first rac­ing car should come as no sur­prise. And what was that car?

‘‘In a mini, my first which [I] paid for work­ing in a fish and chip shop and do­ing the pa­per run,’’ Pad­don said.

Fresh from a sev­enth plac­ing in the Wales Rally Great Bri­tain ear­lier this month, where he was just 6.5 se­conds from fourth and 75sec be­hind the win­ner, Pad­don takes an unas­sail­able lead into the fi­nal round of the New Zealand Rally Cham­pi­onship (NZRC) at the Hyundai Raglan Rally of the Coast to­day.

But Pad­don is des­per­ate to win the one-day rally in his AP4+ rally car to help se­cure the man­u­fac­tur­ers’ ti­tle for Hyundai New Zealand.

Vic­tory, or even just beat­ing home lead­ing Subaru driver Ben Hunt will se­cure the man­u­fac­tur­ers’ cham­pi­onship.

Pad­don, 31, was first in­tro­duced to the sport of ral­ly­ing by his father, Chris, who was an ac­com­plished rally driver him­self.

Chris Pad­don was rac­ing be­fore Pad­don was born and when Pad­don was just a tod­dler his father had built him a mo­torised jeep to burn around home in.

By the age of six, Pad­don was rac­ing go-karts. He would be­come a Can­ter­bury cham­pion in 1998.

He took out his Mo­tor­Sport New Zealand li­cense soon af­ter at the age of 12 – the ear­li­est it can be ob­tained.

‘‘I love mo­tor­sport. For me, it’s al­ways been a way of life it’s never just been a sport or a hobby.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing I do is based around mo­tor­sport and driv­ing and that’s what I live for,’’ Pad­don told Stuff Hay­den Pad­don has

when he was an unas­sail­able lead

back in Can­ter­bury go­ing into the fi­nal

round of the New for

Zealand Rally

the Ash­ley

Cham­pi­onship to­day.

For­est Rallysprint late last month.

Soon af­ter ob­tain­ing his Mo­tor­Sport New Zealand li­cense, Pad­don was forced to make a call be­tween ral­ly­ing and cir­cuit rac­ing but he was des­tined to go the gravel way.

‘‘I ob­vi­ously got brought up around that rally en­vi­ron­ment and it was just what I loved. I just loved the ad­ven­ture and the chal­lenges. It’s al­ways chang­ing and you’ve al­ways got to be adapt­ing. And of course the thrill of go­ing side­ways at 200km an hour on gravel.’’

Pad­don rates his WRC round vic­tory in Ar­gentina back in 2016 as the high­light of his ca­reer so far.

When Pad­don was watch­ing his idols Colin McRae and Pos­sum Bourne he never thought he would make it onto the world stage him­self.

‘‘To me it was like be­ing an as­tro­naut, it was that far-fetched, it was that far away and then 20 years later to be win­ning on that first WRC rally, you had to pinch your­self,’’ Pad­don said.

‘‘It was def­i­nitely the most amaz­ing day of my life to think what we’d done over those 20 years to get there and make that pos­si­ble so you’ll never ever for­get the first one,’’ he said.

Ral­ly­ing and IndyCar are worlds apart but Pad­don takes in­spi­ra­tion from the jour­ney of five-time IndyCar cham­pion and fel­low Kiwi Scott Dixon and can see some sim­i­lar­i­ties in what they are try­ing to achieve on the world stage.

Try­ing to get es­tab­lished in any form of mo­tor­sport in­ter­na­tion­ally from New Zealand is chal­leng­ing lo­gis­ti­cally and fi­nan­cially, Pad­don said.

‘‘It takes a lot of time and pa­tience. What Scott’s done is amaz­ing. It’s a real in­spi­ra­tion for my­self and any sports peo­ple try­ing to com­pete around the world,’’ Pad­don said.

Pad­don will have his for­mer WRC co-driver John Ken­nard back in the car at Raglan. The fi­nal NZRC round of the sea­son will cover more than 170km of spe­cial stages.

Pad­don as­sured him­self his fourth NZRC driv­ers’ crown when he won the Rally of Coro­man­del back in Au­gust.

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