Tuesday | 27 May 2014

Paddon learns aplenty ahead of debut

Hyundai rookie Hayden Paddon believes he has learned more in two tests with his new team than in the previous three years added together.

Paddon will debut for the German-based squad at next week’s Rally Italia Sardegna and recently tested on gravel and asphalt in France, followed by loose surface work in Poland last week in an i20 WRC.

“The amount of information we’ve taken from the small amount of testing we’ve done this year is huge. I learned more from the two test sessions than I’ve learned in the last three years,” the 27-year-old New Zealand driver told wrc.com.

“The whole team works closely together, between the engineers and drivers, and that’s why it’s such a great environment for me to learn in. I can see what Thierry (Neuville) is doing and talk to him about it, and likewise with Juho (Hänninen) and Dani (Sordo).

“We’ve tried some of the things they’re doing and we tried stuff on our own as well because my driving style is different to theirs. I tend to be a little smoother so I want the car to be doing some different things.”

Paddon steps up from a Skoda Fabia S2000

Paddon won the PWRC title in 2011 but his only World Rally Car outing came last year when he finished eighth in a Ford Fiesta RS at Rally de España. He has not competed in Sardinia and he and co-driver John Kennard have set realistic targets.

“Our priority is to go there to learn and get experience. It’s the first time in a new car and with a new team so there’s a lot of things to learn. We have a good programme so it’s about taking it step by step and not trying to set the world on fire straight away,” said Paddon, who will tackle seven of the remaining eight WRC rounds.

The duo have modified their pace note system to cater for the step-up from the Skoda Fabia S2000 they used in 2012 and 2013 to a more powerful World Rally Car.

“We’re looking to try to simplify the notes, particularly for an event like Sardinia which, from the footage I’ve seen, seems very technical, with a lot happening,” explained Paddon.

“Inevitably you get a lot of information in your notes, but in a World Rally Car the speeds are higher. So we can take in as much detail as we can, we’re looking to simplify things, not by taking information out but by taking words out to make the delivery quicker.”