Hyundai Motorsport WRC driver Hayden Paddon reflects on Tour de Corse……..
We are now en-route back to NZ after a challenging rally Corsica – an event that didn’t quite deliver to my expectations, but a sixth position giving us some solid championship points.
Prior to the event we knew this was never going to be a strong event for us; back on the tarmac, and a twisty one at that. But after the recent Rally Sanremo and test with the WRC car we were confident we could make some progress and be more competitive on our least favorite surface. While in general we were closer to the front than last year (on average last year we were 0.5 seconds slower per km, this year 0.4), I had expected more. I must admit that it does add to the challenge of trying to learn and adapt more to tarmac while at the absolute elite level of the sport – against rivals who grew up on it. And the margins we are talking are not huge – it’s all about the little details and searching for perfection. But I am not the sort of person content with not being competitive, regardless of the rally or surface.
By rally end I was personally frustrated that we were unable to make the impression I had hoped. However, it’s all behind us now as we now go into five gravel events in a row – and all events we enjoy. While the tarmac is a beast we are yet to conquer, it’s not something we have to worry about until August’s Rally Germany. In the meantime, the focus is solely on the gravel and the upcoming Rally Argentina, and remaining in a positive frame of mind and getting our season back on track.
It was a great weekend globally for Hyundai motorsport however, with our team taking a 1-3 finish in Corsica with Thierry and Dani. While it is hard to not be on the podium with them, it is very rewarding for every member of the team to have a double podium finish for all the endless hours of work and effort that everyone puts into the team. Locally, our NZ team (Hyundai NZ Rally Team) were able to win round one of the NZ championship with David Holder driving in the i20 AP4. So two out of two for Hyundai over the weekend was not bad!
For the future we have to focus on a better start to the year. The first 3-4 events each year are our weakest events and we have regularly struggled at this part of the season. This is something I have to rectify if we want any chance in the future to challenge for the championship. The start of the season has fallen well short of my goals, but we now have nine rally’s ahead to put that right. We will continue to work harder than ever and never give up to turn this slump of results around. As I said to John during Rally Corsica – I love driving, but I love winning more! This is the motivation that drives me and why I set my standards high.
Huge thanks to everyone for their continued support. Also a special thanks to both our WRC and NZ teams for all the work they have been pouring into the respective projects of recent.
It’s now nice to spend the next 10 days in NZ before we head to Argentina. We have a busy schedule in NZ but also a lot of focus and prep on Rally Argentina.