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Paddon Gets Hyundai WRC Debut Underway
Posted by: newsla on Jun 06, 2014 - 06:23 AM
WRC Rally News 2010
Paddon Gets Hyundai WRC Debut Underway

A short blast around the streets of the south coast town of Cagliari on the island of Sardinia marked the official start of Hayden Paddon’s debut with the Hyundai Motorsport World Rally Team on the evening of Thursday 5 June.


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Paddon’s commented: “It’s good to finally get into the groove and I’m really, really looking forward to tomorrow.”

While the opening super special stage of Rally Italia Sardegna was only around a kilometre in length, Paddon and co-driver John Kennard also face one of the longest special stages of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship season during the event, the massive 59.70km Monte Lerno stage which also features the famed ‘Micky’s jump’.

The Italian event marks the first of seven events with Hyundai Motorsport for the Kiwis who, like the team, are contesting Rally Italia Sardegna for the first time. Paddon and Kennard compete under the Hyundai Motorsport N banner in their #20 Hyundai i20 WRC, while Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul in the #7 Hyundai i20 WRC and Juho Hänninen and co-driver Tomi Tuominen in the #8 Hyundai i20 WRC compete as the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team.

This past week has seen Paddon and Kennard, from Geraldine and Blenheim in New Zealand’s South Island respectively, completing reconnaissance and being involved in various media and promotional activities.

Paddon describes the recce process as good. “It’s our first time in these stages so obviously there’s a challenge writing new notes. They’re quite difficult roads here, quite challenging with a lot rocks and quite narrow in places, so there’s a lot of information in the pace notes which is going to be more challenging, but think we’ve done a good job.”

Paddon adds: “We tried to simplify some of the notes a little bit just because of the extra corner speed in a WRC car. At the same time this event requires probably a bit more information and detail in the notes for the obstacles. So some of what we’ve gained by taking some information out, we’ve lost by putting in extra detail for this event.”

Paddon’s impression of the stages is that they are very technical and quite narrow in places. “There are some fast sections but even in these, there are a lot of big rocks beside the road and the room for error is very small. It’s going to be a matter of trying to look after the car on these sorts of roads.”

Speaking after completing three runs of the shakedown stage on Thursday morning, Paddon said: “Shakedown was good and it was good to blow the cobwebs out. We felt a bit rusty to start with and struggled a little bit on the first run with the car as we haven’t tested in these conditions, but then we made some damper and chassis changes, and for the second and third runs, we improved the car. This gives us a better start setup for the rally and it all feels comfortable as we wait for the rally to start. Friday going to be a long challenging day so we’ve got to keep it clean and tidy. I’m still a bit nervous and just want to get started on the first proper stage, but shakedown this morning was good to settle the nerves as well.”

During the pre-event media conference, Paddon was asked: “What has the team been saying to you about the weekend? What are your instructions?” He replied: “We’re all on the same page on that one. For me I need to get as much experience. I need to learn because it’s my first time on this event and there are some very tricky stages here. We need to know where the places are we can push, where we have to look after the car. I need to get as much experience as possible for myself and for the team. After here we get onto events we know and we can start pushing more.”

When asked about putting pressure on himself, Paddon responded: “It’s difficult but I’m going to handle that by not looking at the times on Friday. On the first day in Spain for my first time in a World Rally Car and on gravel it was very difficult. I was looking at the times and I got very demoralised and that started to play games mentally. I’m not going to look at the times tomorrow. I’m going to concentrate on my driving and enjoy it and assess where we are with the feeling of the car and start taking more notice of the split times on Saturday.”

Mads Østberg, driver with the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team, then chipped in with a question: “How many rallies are you doing and will you be testing for each rally?” “Why, are you worried?” asked Paddon. “Yes!” said Østberg. “I was just watching the times on shakedown and you were beating me. If that’s your first kilometres in the car I’m a bit worried.”

The rally proper gets underway on Friday with 159.98 competitive kilometres broken into eight stages comprising a repeated loop of four stages and broken by a remote service which limits the scope of any necessary repairs. Saturday’s 156.80 kilometres comprise two runs through just two stages including the 59.70km Monte Lerno which Paddon describes as: “challenging but I think it will be easier because it’s nice and flowing and it’s easy to get a good rhythm.” The rally concludes on Sunday with 46.84 kilometres broken into four stages.

The start order for day one is based on championship order, so Paddon expects to start around 13th position. For the second and third day, the WRC competitors start in the reverse order of their finishing order for the previous day.

Paddon and the HPRG team appreciates the support of their exclusive partners VINZ New Zealand, PlaceMakers and Pak n’ Save along with associate support from Z Energy, Hyundai New Zealand, Scott Sports and New Balance.

PaddockTalk Perspective

Also in WRC Rally News 2010:

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