BRC and Paddon ready to take on the asphalt at Rally Islas Canarias

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Hayden Paddon and John Kennard will compete alongside the BRC Racing Team at Islas Canarias for the second round of the FIA European Rally Championship (ERC) 2024 which will take place this weekend, 2 to 4 May

Having finished second here last year on their first attempt of this fast all-tarmac rally and seeded number one for this year’s edition, BRC Racing and Paddon are looking forward to challenging the front-runners for another podium finish.

It’s a rally that we have some experience with from last year,” says Paddon before boarding the long-haul flight back to Europe. “It’s good, for the first time in our ERC experience, to return to a rally that we’ve done before. We have some pace notes, we have some experience, and we are hoping to make some improvements on the car. It’s particularly pleasing to have the upgraded engine in the Hyundai i20 Rally 2 car that’s run by BRC Racing for us, plus there are a few other bits and pieces we’re able to tweak on the car. John and I are excited to get back to some roads we have rallied before.”

The fourth place at Rally Hungary netted Paddon 19 points towards his bid to win a second ERC title, he’s keen to build on this slower-than-wanted start.

“Obviously, it was good to get some points on the board, but Hungary didn’t quite deliver the result we were after, so our motivation is quite high for the Canary Islands to try and make amends for that and give it our best shot to get back on that podium. While the season is still young, it’s important to get points ticking over consistently with each rally. With this being our 19th season competing together, John and I are also trying to win more ERC rallies and be more competitive this year, so there’s plenty to motivate us performance-wise.”

From the first ERC round in Hungary, Paddon could see the intensity of competition was even more fierce.  “We’re seeing up to 15 drivers competing for the win. While we didn’t get a podium result in Hungary, the one we regard as our main championship rivals didn’t get any points, so there’s a small advantage in that respect. But it’s very hard to predict the championship results because it is constantly changing, which keeps us on our toes as well because we don’t necessarily know who we’re directly competing with on each event. So, you just have to put your hammer down and try to get as many points as you can from as many people as you can.”

Gabriele Rizzo, BRC Racing Team Principal, says “We are going to face the first tarmac rally of the season. This year the calendar includes more asphalt than gravel events so, if we want to aim for the title again, we must show great competitiveness on this surface. As a team we have many years of experience on these roads, where together with Hayden we achieved an excellent result already last year. It was a very tough rally also due to the sudden changes in weather, typical of these islands. Our targets are the usual ones, not to make mistakes and score as many points as possible especially in relation to the main championship opponents. If it is a completely dry race the gaps will be minimal, the search for details and maximum performance will make the difference more than in any other event.”

Based in the town of Las Palmas, Rally Islas Canarias comprises 13 special stages over 193.12 competitive km on asphalt roads which climb and descend frequently. A notable feature of the sealed stages is the abrasive surface, which is constructed partly from volcanic lava. This grip levels are high and remain constant if it rains, although tire wear can increase in dry conditions.

On Wednesday, European time, they will participate in reconnaissance where they’ll be looking to refine their pace notes. Recce continues Thursday morning before the qualifying stage for FIA and ERC1 priority drivers. Qualifying results determine the order in which drivers can choose their road position for Friday’s start list.

Paddon is seeded number one on the entry list, ahead of 2022 ERC champion Efren Llarena.