Hayden Paddon gives us his thoughts heading into this weekend’s opening round of the NZ Rally and the Asia Pacific Rally Championships…..
It has been a while, but it’s finally time to go rallying again with this weekend’s Rally Otago.
It has been an incredibly busy few months with not only preparation for this weekend, but also setting up our new look Paddon Rallysport workshop and infrastructure for some exciting future plans.
Our new 500sqm workshop at the spectacular Highlands Motorsport Park in Cromwell is an incredible facility and gives us many opportunities to develop our long term vision. Ultimately the goal is to build a base to have our own Kiwi rally team take on world Motorsport in the future. It was great to share the workshop with many people that recently turned up for our official opening. Check out a tour of the new facilities here
Like any sport, you are only as good as the people around you and we have been very fortunate to get some of the best young engineers and technicians to help spear head our campaign. Big thanks to Vanessa, Mike, Matt, Ben, Rory and Jack who have all been busy with our preseason rebuild.
The car has had a ground up rebuild with some small refinements from last year, but largely unchanged. Those small refinements surprisingly made some very good improvements when testing last weekend.
It’s no secret that Otago is my favourite Rally of the year. Amazing stages, great atmosphere and a huge entry list! This year promises to be even bigger and better. Our target will be to have fun and try to target some of our stage records to show we are still improving and getting faster.
One big change with the Rally this year is the seeding order. This year the classics will start first on the road in reverse order, followed by us in APRC/NZRC, meaning we will be around 60 on the road. This is great for the spectators as they can see leading Classic and overall cars in a shorter window and hats off to the organisers for trying something different. It does present some new challenges for us as the swept line will be in a different place of the road that we are used to, but it’s a challenge I’m looking forward.
We are not doing the full NZ Rally Championship this year as we made the conscious decision to not enter so to not upset point allocation for the regular competitors. It will be a very close fight for this year’s New Zealand title. For us, we are still eligible for the outright event victories and this year we have entered the FIA Asia Pacific Championship with a view to try and win the Pacific Cup, contested at both Rally Otago and Rally Whangarei and two events in Australia.
If you’re down South this weekend, I highly recommend getting along and watching – it’s one of the best NZ rally’s of the season. Day 1 heads south of Dunedin with some iconic stages such as Kuri Bush, with day 2 stages going as far north as Oamaru. Full event info can be found at www.otagorally.co.nz
Thanks to everyone that has helped with our set up at Highlands with our new workshop and all our partners for this year’s Rally programme. Will be great to see some of you this weekend.