WRC driver Hayden Paddon gives us his thoughts heading into this weekend’s Rallye de Portugal ….
It has only been a few days since I last wrote to you but we are now back into ‘rally mode’ with this week’s Rally de Portugal. After getting straight on a plane after Rally Whangarei, it was on to Sardenga where we had 48 hours to recover from the jetlag before getting into a 2-day test.
The test went really well and it was good to have two days in the car. The test coupled as our Portugal and Sardenga test (we were able to choose representative roads for both) which was not only good to fine tune the settings of the car, but also to just re-adapt to the capabilities of a WRC car. They never cease to amaze how much you can extract from a WRC car and it is a huge driving pleasure.
A lot of our focus throughout the test was channeled towards some areas of the car that I had struggled with over the past 12 months, to help me to be confident to drive in my natural style. We were able to find some nice solutions while taking a slightly different setup approach to what we have had in the past. We are also mindful that we have fallen into the trap in the past that while things may feel very good at test, they can be different on the rally. So certainly feeling optimistic we are on the right path, but also wary that we may have to fine tune a little at the pre-event shakedown on Thursday.
Pacenote and stages wise, this rally is relatively straight forward, as all the stages are the same as last year. This means a lot of pre event video and pacenote work, but with that now done, it means rally week can be a little more relaxed which is a good state to go into the rally as. Feeling really good, quietly positive but most importantly just looking forward to driving at this level again. We will be giving it 100% but also driving with our heads and not doing anything silly. We have a good road position so we need to allow that to naturally play its role.
It’s great that there will also be many Kiwis at this rally which is always humbling, and big thanks also for all your support around the world. A small apology in advance for some sleepless nights ahead for our Kiwi fans following from the other side of the world 😉
If you haven’t already, remember you can watch every stage live with on-boards and helicopter footage by signing up at www.wrcplus.com – it is truly spectacular footage.
Look forward to keeping you up to date. Follow our progress throughout the weekend at www.paddonspack.co.nz