Hayden Paddon feared another accident at last weekend’s Rally Italia Sardegna could have had long-term consequences for his career.
The Kiwi started the dirt road encounter three weeks after a rally-ending 15G crash at the previous round in Portugal, which aggravated a lower back injury and hospitalised him for a night.
Paddon received the all-clear to compete in Sardinia, where he is now based, but admitted his injury was a concern throughout the four-day island event.
“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. There was a little bit of that in the back of my mind that I couldn’t afford to do that again,” he told wrc.com.
“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.”
Paddon worked closely with the FIA’s medical team after his crash and the 31-year-old’s efforts were rewarded with fourth place in his Hyundai i20. Wet and muddy conditions in the opening leg disadvantaged him from a low start position and set the tone for the weekend.
“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. It takes a little bit of pressure off,” he added.
Paddon flies to New Zealand to tackle Rally South Canterbury in a Hyundai i20 AP4+ car on 23 June before returning to tackle Rally Estonia on 13 - 15 July as a warm-up for the next WRC round in Finland two weeks later.
“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,” he said.
Italy Debrief: Part 2
Continuing our look back on an action-packed Sardinia
Italy debrief: part 1
Reflections from a thrilling Sardinia encounter
Tänak explains Ogier time card incident
Estonian cites road section safety as his priority in Sardinia