Paddon pushes to sharpen tarmac skills
Kiwi ace Hayden Paddon is searching to improve his tarmac skills as the World Rally Championship moves to Germany this weekend.
The German leg of the WRC kicks off what is scheduled to be four consecutive sealed surface events on the calendar.
Paddon and co-driver John Kennard have been the flag flyers for the Hyundai World Rally Team this season with the pair occupying fourth in the points standings behind VW trio Sebastien Ogier, Andreas Mikkelsen and Jari-Matti Latvala.
Staged over a total of 306.8km of competitive distance, the German rally is deemed the most difficult of all the sealed road rallies on the calendar.
“Last year it was a dive into the unknown with our relative lack of experience on tarmac,” said Paddon after testing his new generation i20 WRC car on a set of closed tarmac roads with Hyundai Motorsport in Germany.
“I think my driving on this surface has improved a lot in the last 12 months. It was a good test here and I’m learning all the time.”
Part of Paddon’s preparation has seen him enjoy time in a GT car on a circuit together with spending time in a simulator.
“I have to be realistic and open minded to learn. I have competed in something like 150 gravel rallies in my life and maybe only seven tarmac rallies,” added Paddon, who recorded his maiden WRC win in Argentina in April.
“It does require a different driving style and technique and this is something I need to adapt to. The recent track and simulator work has helped a lot.
“With the stages varying from narrow vineyard lanes, fast public roads and the bumpy Panzerplatte military area, as well as localised weather generally playing a part, there are lots of challenges to be wary of.
“Overall, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to improve on tarmac. There is no pressure or expectations from myself or the team so the focus is improving for the future so we can start to mount a challenge on asphalt rallies next year.”
Paddon and Kennard are entered for the German event in the #20 Hyundai NG i20 WRC with team-mates Thierry Neuville in the #3 machine while Dani Sordo, who missed the previous event in Finland after sustaining a fractured vertebra, is in the #4 i20.
Rally Germany will be followed by Rally China on September 9-11, provided that the event can overcome reported financial trouble, before further tarmac events in France (Sep 28-Oct 2) and Spain (Oct 14-16).