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ERC: maximum points goal for BRC and Paddon at Rally Estonia

Hyundai’s driver is now leading ERC standings on equal points with Mathieu Franceschi. Paddon’s main goal is first place on fast baltic gravel roads.

The high-speed roads of Rally Estonia, running 5 to 7 July, are the next challenge for New Zealand rally pairing Hayden Paddon and John Kennard where they’re aiming to finish strongly among the points.

As current co-leaders of the 2024 FIA ERC, Paddon and Kennard know the competition in Estonia will be intense as they continue their strong bid to secure a second ERC title in their BRC Racing-run Hyundai i20 Rally 2 car.

“We would love to be competing for a win again in Estonia,” says Paddon of a rally he has some experience of, having finished second there in 2018 with Seb Marshall.

As with every ERC round so far this year, there will be a lot of fast drivers including numerous local drivers who know the road conditions well. However, championship wise, our focus is firmly on staying ahead of Mattieu Franceschi, who shares the top of the points-table with me at present. This is no easy feat as he is driving very well this year.”

After the first three ERC rounds, Paddon and Franceschi each have 56 points with Romanian driver Simone Tempestini in third with 40 points.

Paddon describes Rally Estonia as another very fast, enjoyable gravel rally on the ERC calendar. “The key differences to Sweden are that the road surface is softer, so it cuts up on the second pass a lot more, and many jumps. It’s a high commitment rally, maybe even more so than Sweden as the room for margin is greater.”

Starting in the eastern city of Tartu, Rally Estonia comprises 187.64 km of competition across 14 special stages. Friday evening’s super special stage in Tartu is followed by nine stages on Saturday and four stages on Sunday, all south of Tartu.

The BRC Racing-run Hyundai i20 Rally 2 car will be in similar set-up to how it was in Sweden where Paddon and Kennard finished a hard-fought third. “We’ll be using the pre-event test in Estonia to get the car dialled into the conditions. Performance-wise, we are pushing and trying as much as we can along with BRC team who are doing an amazing job.”