PHOTO: Hayden Paddon drove impressively in Rally Finland (Hyundai pic)
HYUNDAI’S Hayden Paddon says he won’t be holding back when he climbs behind the wheel of the i20 WRC at Coates Hire Rally Australia.
The New Zealander is four events in to a seven-round WRC programme with the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team and his eighth-place finish at the notoriously tricky Neste Oil Rally Finland last weekend marked another significant step in his development as a WRC driver last week.
He was sixth overall and the highest placed Hyundai driver at the end of the third day before a power steering problem bumped him back two places on the final morning.
Paddon feels he’s made some big strides on recent events and reckons Rally Australia – an event where he has the most experience – represents his best chance of edging closer to the WRC’s fastest drivers.
Speaking to wrc.com after Rally Finland, Paddon said: “I think I’ve developed a lot as a driver this weekend. I’ve learned a lot about my own driving and car set-up and this puts us in a good position for Australia.
“If we can push a bit harder in Australia on the roads that I know, it would be nice to see if we can get in the top five there.
“I know it’s going to be a tall ask. The roads are pretty smooth and the attrition isn’t normally that high.
“But we won’t be holding back down there and we’ll keep trying to move forward.”
Paddon will sit out the German WRC round starting on Thursday-week and resume his campaign at Round 10 in Australia.
His impressive recent form has been attributed to a new and efficient driving style he has adopted to get the most out of his i20 WRC.
He explained: “I’ve been trying to be smoother, but at the same time more committed. It’s about using a more positive turn-in and no correction so I can commit to the line through the corner. It’s a bit of an art.”
Paddon’s appearance with co-driver John Stannard will be a highlight for almost 100 countrymen who are expected to cross the Tasman to see him compete.
His rivals will include Hyundai teammate Chris Atkinson from Australia, currently on testing duties with the team in Europe.
While Paddon will be on familiar roads, ironically Atkinson has no experience of the Coffs Coast stages, having not contested his home round since the last time it ran in Western Australia in 2006.