Paddon sidelined from Finland
Test crash ends Kiwi’s WRC return
The New Zealand star had been scheduled to return to the WRC with M-Sport Ford for the first time since finishing second at last year’s Kennards Hire Rally Australia, only for the accident to leave his Fiesta World Rally Car beyond repair in time for Thursday’s start.
wrc.com: How do you feel?
HP: I’m gutted because I came to Finland in such a good place, mentally and physically I’ve never been so well prepared for a rally like this. Everything was right and everything was ready. There was no lack of effort anywhere or from anyone, we put everything into this. Everything. I’d say I’m gutted, but that doesn’t come close.
After all the effort so many people have put into this, I just don’t know what to say. It’s sport. Sport can be like this, you know. You can’t have the roses every day. For the absolute highs to matter and mean so much, you have to have absolute lows and this is one of them.
wrc.com: What happened?
HP: When you come to a test, you have to drive the car, you have to push the car to make it work. You can’t just drive around. Having said that, after the accident I thought about things and asked myself ‘so, what would I have done differently?’ And the answer is actually nothing. That’s one of the things that’s actually so hard to accept.
wrc.com: It was a fast corner?
HP: The corner’s pretty much flat out, but the approach to it is blind because of a small crest. We came over that crest committed to the corner and on the same line we’d been on plenty of times before and the rock was just sitting there.
If you move even half a metre off line at that speed, it’s the end, you’re gone. We hit the rock right in the middle of the car and it just threw us off line and straight into the trees. At that speed, on a narrow piece of road like that, there’s nothing you can do.
wrc.com: The damage to the sump guard demonstrated the speed you’d hit the rock…
HP: It was the biggest crash I’ve had, certainly the one with the highest speed. When we got out of the car, the sump guard is actually split in half. The rock we hit is still there with a load of aluminium on it.
Photograph courtesy of YLIVAA Media