Hyundai Motorsport WRC driver Hayden Paddon previews Rally Portugal……..
As soon as one event finishes, it’s time for another! But I’m certainly not complaining – in fact, one of the benefits of the WRC is that we drive so often, we stay fresh and ready.
We have Vodafone Rally de Portugal this week, an event that holds some special memories for us, as this is where we scored our first PWRC win outside of NZ back in 2011.
Another reason Rally Portugal is special is because we have several Portuguese people on our team, including my engineer, Rui. And for those who know Portuguese people, you probably know that they are very passionate about rallying, so it’s an honour to be representing them at their home rally.
While Rally Portugal is another gravel rally, it’s quite different to Argentina. The surface is a lot smoother but can also be more ‘sandy’. Some of the most famous stages include Fafe, the power-stage on Sunday, with some of the biggest jumps we see in the whole championship.
In terms of the target, like any rally, it is to do the best job we can. I feel things are on an upward swing and rather than going into the rally to chase a result, we will drive at a good level and let the result come to us. Especially as we have a lower starting position for Friday (which is an advantage if it stays dry), so we need to let this help us organically. Often, if we are too determined or ‘fired up’, we can tend to over-drive. And over-driving ultimately means slower times. So there’s a fine line, and that’s what we are searching for.
We had a good two-day test last week in Sardinia, in preparation for both Portugal and the following rally in Sardinia. We learnt some interesting things and the car felt good during the test – so let’s hope that translates to the rally! It is very difficult to replicate rally conditions in testing, so we have to wait until the Portugal shakedown on Thursday to confirm our settings.
One major change for this rally is that Seb Marshall will be stepping in as co-driver earlier than expected. Unfortunately, after the rough Argentina rally, John aggravated an existing hip injury and has been advised to let it recover before getting back in the car. We all wish John a speedy recovery and hope to see him back in the car again soon. He will still be in Portugal supporting us, so we thank him for that. Seb is naturally very excited to get in the car and we have been working well together, so I’m confident that this will not affect our rally.
Thanks again for your continued support and as always, you can stay up-to-date with our progress during the event at www.paddonspack.co.nz