PHOTO: Hayden Paddon overcame an unfamiliar Hyundai i20 in Sweden to claim his best WRC finish (Hyundai pic)
AFTER finishing sixth at Coates Hire Rally Australia last September, Kiwi star Hayden Paddon went one better to achieve his best WRC result at Rally Sweden last weekenda – but he had to radically alter his driving style to do it.
Paddon was promoted to the main Hyundai team in place of the injured Dani Sordo and switched from his usual i20 World Rally Car to the Spaniard’s #8 example. But along with the new car came Sordo’s preferred differential settings – unchangeable due to component linking regulations.
Making his season debut in Sweden, Paddon got off to a slow start as he struggled to get to grips with the car’s unfamiliar handling.
“The main problem was that it was set-up to be a lot more sideways on corner entry, whereas my natural style is to try and keep the car straight,” he told wrc.com.
“The front end kept coming out mid-corner when I was trying to come on power. That meant I had to be a lot more aggressive with the car – and for me that didn’t feel natural. It was a case of having to adapt over the weekend.
“I think we did okay at that, but it was a tough rally. It didn’t go ideally but we kept our noses clean, we didn’t get stuck in any snow banks and the pace was okay.
“We know there’s more to come. When we get our own settings in the car we can be a lot quicker.”
Fifth place in Sweden not only eclipsed Paddon’s previous best of sixth in Australia last year but also gave him a confidence boost ahead of an expanded 12-round season with Hyundai.
“It’s the perfect start to the year,” he acknowledged.
“We couldn’t have hoped for more. I’d only done seven events in a World Rally Car and we’re up against people who have done 40 or 50 plus – so there’s a bit of a gap!”