Hayden Paddon seriously feared that a crash in last weekend’s Rally Italia Sardegna would have caused career-threatening injuries after a major incident in Portugal.
The New Zealander had claimed to be ‘fighting fit’ ahead of the Italy event, despite being hospitalised in Portugal three weeks earlier with lower back pain.
He had slid off the road and into a ditch during the Matosinhos event, near Porto, with the 15G impact causing significant damage to his Hyundai i20.
Paddon has since revealed that his situation was actually far more precarious than previously described.
“I had to do a lot pre-event rehabilitation and obviously there was a lot of concern if I had another impact, the consequences could be quite big for my future,” he told WRC.com.
“There was a little bit of that in the back of my mind that I couldn’t afford to do that again.
“Friday was tough, I was very fatigued. I had to take it easy for two weeks after Portugal and it was touch and go whether I was going to do this rally or not, so it was good to get here and get a clean finish.”
The 31-year-old ended up finishing the event in fourth position, his best result so far in what is a part-time campaign in the world championship in 2018.
“After Portugal, for two or three days it was doubtful I was even going to be here so it was nice to take good points for the team and get a finish under the belt,” explained Paddon.
“It takes a little bit of pressure off.
“There are some areas we want to work on with the car and I need to up the pace a little. I’ve always been struggling with the front end.
“We know what the answer is and we have a test and the rally in Estonia so I believe we’ll be working on some of those areas.”
Paddon is back in action in the Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship in next weekend’s South Canterbury Rally (June 23).
He will line up in Rally Estonia on July 13-15 and is also set down to drive the #6 Hyundai in the next WRC round in Finland, which is not until July 26-29.