MEXICO debutant Hayden Paddon believes he can deliver a good result there this weekend despite his inexperience of the high-altitude gravel roads.
The Kiwi completed the recce at Rally Guanajuato Mexico last season, but acknowledges there will be plenty of hard work to do in practice this week to match his more experienced rivals on the WRC’s first gravel rally of the campaign.
“Our biggest challenge is that this will be our first time doing this event – an event that is relatively unchanged from year to year,” he said.
“Even though we did the recce here last year, that familiarity which other competitors have with this route will be a hard gap to bridge.
“While we do have a base of notes to work with from last year, it’s a little difficult as we have not driven the notes at speed, so there is more work to do during recce to visualise speeds and lines and translate that into our pace notes.
“Mexico often has a high attrition rate, so if we can push at a comfortable pace and avoid problems, then a good result could be on the cards.”
The Hyundai i20 driver returns to his favoured surface after a career-best fifth place at Rally Sweden last month and morale-boosting two-day test in Spain immediately afterwards.
“We started with our base gravel set-up from late last year and focused on improving some key areas that we have struggled with, particularly the understeer,” Paddon said.
“We found a really good compromise and also, in terms of my driving style, quite a time difference between our new settings and the old settings.
“Of course the proof is in the pudding once we get on event but from a test perspective it was one of the best yet.”