THREE weeks after his Hyundai i20 was destroyed by fire in Portugal, New Zealander Hayden Paddon will tackle rally Italia Sardegna (9-12 June) with a new car – built in just a week – and another podium finish in his sights.
Shortly after the high of his maiden WRC victory in Argentina, Paddon and co-driver John Kennard hit the ground with a bump in Portugal, when their car caught fire following an off on the opening day.
Neither driver was injured, but the total loss of one of the latest-specification i20 cars left Hyundai in a race against time to deliver a replacement from scratch for the next round, WRC.com reports.
Paddon’s crew returned from Portugal earlier than the rest of the team to begin work at the squad’s base in Germany and turned around the job in just seven working days.
And as he prepared to return to the coastal resort town of Alghero, where he celebrated his first WRC podium result in 2015, Paddon believed recent events had made him stronger.
“We had a hard weekend in Portugal but the accident does not dent the confidence at all – in fact we are only more determined than ever to come back fighting in Sardinia. I’d like to thank everyone in the team for getting our car ready for us. Let’s hope we can repay those efforts with a positive result,” he said.
“We have some very fond memories from Sardinia. It was the venue of my first rally with Hyundai Motorsport back in 2014 and then twelve months later where we scored our debut WRC podium. You never forget your first podium and we’d love to go back and get another one this year.”
The team will again field four cars with an unchanged driver line-up from the last round. Paddon and Dani Sordo will represent the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team, driving New Generation i20 WRCs, while Kevin Abbring joins Thierry Neuville in the second-tier Mobis World Rally Team.
Neuville will compete in the #20 New Generation i20 WRC with Abbring driving a 2015-specification car.