KIWI star Hayden Paddon has turned to a renowned driving coach to bring him up to speed – literally – for his first full tarmac event in a World Rally Car at this weekend’s ADAC Rallye Deutschland.
WRC.com reports the Hyundai Motorsport N team member spent a day in the UK with driver coach Rob Wilson, who has helped competitors from many motorsport categories including Formula 1, as well as WRC aces Mikko Hirvonen and double world champion Marcus Grönholm.
Paddon has been a star of this WRC season, scoring a career-best second place in Rally Italy, but his results all have come on gravel, a surface familiar to him since the start of his career.
He will be back on gravel for the round after Germany at Coates Hire Rally Australia on 10-13 September, an event he’s said he is targeting for his maiden WRC win.
For Germany, having done two tarmac events in WRC2, Paddon knew he had more to learn.
“We have done maybe 30 per cent of the (Germany) route before which will help, but the speed difference between WRC2 and WRC cars is much greater on tarmac and this will be the biggest thing to adapt to from our previous experience of this event,” said Paddon, who is co-driven by John Kennard.
“As we have only done one event with the Hyundai i20 WRC on tarmac before [Spain last year], we started from scratch with the setup during our one-day test with the team the other week.
“Of course, with a one-day test, you are a little restricted time-wise, but we made some good progress and now have a car I’m confident in, albeit set up a little differently to our teammates.
“It was good to spend some time with Rob, who I also did some work with a few years ago.
“Tarmac rallying requires a different mind-set and understanding of weight transfer and smoothness. Rob really helped to knuckle this into my brain and practice it.
“It’s not something I will perfect overnight, but gives me plenty to think about and consciously work on.”
Paddon is also hoping to learn from his Hyundai teammates, Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo and Kevin Abbring.“This event will be more difficult for us, especially with what I would describe as three teammates who are tarmac specialists. This is a surface we don’t have a lot of experience on but I have done this rally a couple of times before and I really enjoy the character of the roads.
“So, yes, we will have our work cut out for us, but I see this as a positive and I am sure we can learn a lot from our team-mates throughout the rally.“The biggest thing, of course, is for us to learn and get to the finish. If we can try and be in the top 10, great.”