(8.05.2023) Hayden Paddon and John Kennard will compete in ORLEN 79th Rally of Poland as FIA European Rally Championship leaders, after securing 1st and 2nd place in first two rounds of the series.

ORLEN 79th Rally Poland will be held as round three of 2023 FIA ERC season. The championship kicked-off with gravel 36th Rally Serras de Fafe in Portugal. It was Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20 N Rally2) who took his maiden ERC victory in his only fourth outing in the series. Paddon, co-driven by John Kennard, was 10.8 seconds quicker than second placed Mads Ostberg (co-driver: Patrik Barth, Citroen C3 Rally2). Third podium spot was taken by Estonian-British crew – Georg Linnamae and James Morgan (Hyundai i20 N Rally2), who finished nearly half a minute adrift of winners.

ORLEN Team crew – Mikolaj Marczyk and Szymon Gospodarczyk (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo) took 4th place, scoring 19 points. Another Polish champions – Tom Kristensson and Andreas Johansson (Citroen C3 Rally2) were 9th overall.

36th Rally Serras de Fafe was a heart-breaking event for Mikko Heikkila and Vaaleri Samu. Finnish duo led the overall classification of the season-opener until the final stage of the event but dropped to 8th place after suffering a puncture.

The second round of the season was held on twisty and very grippy tarmac roads of Gran Canaria, where 47th Rally Islas Canarias took place. French duo – Yoann Bonato and Benjamin Boulloud (Citroen C2 Rally2) were fastest and scored 30 points. Paddon and Kennard finished 2nd overall, 36.9 seconds adrift of the victory. Reigning European Champions – Efren Llarena and Sara Fernandez (Skoda Fabia RS Rally2) climbed up to 3rd place on final stage of the event. Grzegorz Grzyb and Jakub Wrobel (Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo) were top placed Poles (11th overall).

Paydon and Kennard lead FIA ERC standings before ORLEN 79th Rally Poland (58 pts.). Bonato and Boulloud are second (47 pts) with Llarena and Fernandes third (34 pts).