5 Mar 2015

Paddon happy to be back on gravel

12:41 pm on 5 March 2015

The New Zealand rally driver Hayden Paddon is excited about getting back on gravel for his second WRC event of the year, the Rally Mexico, which starts Friday.

Hayden Paddon (NZ) Hyundai I20 WRC

Hayden Paddon (NZ) Hyundai I20 WRC Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Hyundai driver is coming off his best-ever World Rally Championship result, a fifth-place finish in the snow in Sweden last month.

Paddon is maintaining his focus on learning and adapting as he and co-driver John Kennard face the challenging heat, altitude and long stages of their second event of the year.

New Zealand's top rally driver says he's looking forward to being back on gravel, the surface with which he's most familiar, in his regular #20 Hyundai i20 WRC car.

Paddon says it'll be good being back on the gravel, but their biggest challenge is that this will be their first time doing this event - an event that is relatively unchanged from year to year.

He says even though they did recce there last year, that familiarity which other competitors have with this route will be a hard gap to bridge.

Paddon says his fifth place in Sweden - while stepping into his team-mate Dani Sordo's car from his usual car due to Sordo's injury - provided another opportunity to learn and improve.

He says it was a good learning exercise in that no matter how bad things may feel at the time, you just need to focus, put your head down, try not to make any mistakes and you never know what the end result may be.

Hyundai Motorsport fields their usual team in Mexico with Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul in the #7 Hyundai i20 WRC, Dani Sordo now cleared to compete with co-driver Marc Marti back in the #8 car and Paddon and Kennard returning to their # 20 Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team car.

With last year's recce providing valuable first-hand experience of the 24 special stages, covering 395.21 competitive kilometres, Paddon says he enjoys the nature of the roads there, a mix of fast and technical.

The altitude of the route which takes us into the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountains north and east of León to over 2700 metres above sea level is the biggest handicap though for all the cars, with up to 20 percent power loss expected.

Immediately after the Swedish event, Paddon joined the Hyundai Motorsport team in Spain where he spent two days testing to prepare for the gravel roads of Mexico.

Heading into the third round the French Volkswagen driver Sebastien Ogier leads the championship, with Paddon's team-mate Thierry Neuville second.

Paddon is eighth, having missed the opening round in Monte Carlo.

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