Haydon Paddon’s third place in last weekend’s PZM 73rd Rally Poland has removed the pressure from his shoulders after crashing out of the previous rounds in Portugal and Italy.
The New Zealander was inside the top three for the entire event, but came close to gifting the final podium position to Hyundai i20 team-mate Thierry Neuville after a cautious drive through the final two rocky, rain-soaked speed tests.
The margin between them at the finish was just 0.8sec and Paddon said Sunday’s conditions were some of the worst in the WRC for a long time.
“It was really difficult to judge the grip,” he told wrc.com. “When you have a 20sec gap to the driver behind, then you relax. I almost relaxed too much but it was so easy to go off the road in those conditions and after what happened to us in the last two rallies, I didn’t want to jeopardise anything.
“Luckily it turned out alright. It was a pretty finely-tuned calculation in the end, but third is third so I’m happy. I feel a whole lot of pressure has been taken off us.”
Finishing was key for Paddon, who climbed to third in the championship, after his car was destroyed by fire following a shunt in Portugal. That was followed by another early exit in Sardinia when he rolled.
“I would have been disappointed to lose third, because once you’re on the podium you don’t want to let go of it, but the most important thing was to finish.
“Removing the pressure is good going to Finland, one of my favourite rallies of the year and a rally that suits me more than Poland. I know there are a few things I can improve. We’ve not had a perfect rally, we’ve had a good rally and I’m happy to have a mistake free event and a good result,” he added.