Kiwi rally driver Hayden Paddon and his co-driver John Kennard have returned to New Zealand full of enthusiasm for the exciting season of international rallying in front of them.
The pair has had ten days in Scotland and Italy where they were preparing for their first event as a Pirelli Star Driver in the FIA World Rally Championship. In Edinburgh, Paddon and Kennard joined the other four Pirelli Star Drivers and their co-drivers from around the world to complete a customised training programme at Edinburgh University.
“It was great to meet our new team-mates,” says Paddon, who comes from Geraldine. “There already seems to be a good vibe in the team.”
PSD Drivers and Co-drivers meet for the first time in Scotland
The first team-building activity began as soon as they arrived in Edinburgh on Sunday 14 March. The teams were given a variety of materials and had to construct a reduced-scale super special stage, including a bridge over a one-metre gap between two tables – before racing each other with radio-controlled cars.
The course providers, Elite Sports Performance which was co-founded by Robert Reid, co-driver to the late Richard Burns, ran sessions to the timetable of a WRC event, with Sunday evening simulating the ceremonial start or super special stage of a rally.
Two long days followed as the crews worked on many aspects of their preparation for the six WRC rounds they are to contest as a Pirelli Star Driver. These included sponsorship and the business of rallying; pace notes; performance profiling; physiology and conditioning; fitness and injury prevention; career management; aerobic training and flexibility; media and presentation skills; nutrition; safety and incident response; heat chamber work; hydration strategy; goal-setting and anti-doping regulations in motorsport.
“Both John and I went well in our fitness tests, which gives us a good base to work from for the rest of the year. Our instructors highlighted our strengths and weaknesses, and provided guidance on how we can maximise our body’s performance,” says the 22-year-old double New Zealand Rally Champion.
Hayden attended a similar training course in 2006 with the Elite Motorsport Academy, something which he admits gave him a head start with the training in Scotland.
“Some aspects of the course were very similar but the great thing with the training that we have done here is that it was solely focused on Rallying and the impact that a long week and event has on our body’s and mind. The Elite Motorsport Academy is unique to New Zealand and we are very lucky that the NZ Motorsport Trust make available these sort of resources for young New Zealand drivers, and the course that we have done this week with ESP is a continuation on from this which will immensely help my future.”
“One of the really key things for me was the work we did in the heat chamber, which ideally replicated the hot conditions we can get in the car. It was interesting to see the way those conditions impacted on my body and what I could do to control that.”
ESP will continue to evaluate the drivers performance, training and fitness levels throughout the year by attending three of the events where they will also perform on-event research of each of the drivers.
Being a rally driver through and through, Paddon was keen to get to Ralliart Italy’s test location, near Pisa in Tuscany, to see the Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X he’d be driving this year.
“We spent Thursday getting our hands dirty – changing wheels, altering the set-up and generally familiarising ourselves with the EVO X.
“Despite my Italian being somewhat scratchy, both John and I have been able to communicate well with the team and build strong relationships – necessary within any successful rally team.
“On Friday and Saturday, we each had 30km of testing, first on gravel then on tarmac, aiming to get familiar and comfortable with the car. John and I were fortunate to have had a brief drive in Sloan Cox’s EVO X before leaving for Europe. This helped us get familiar with the set-up quickly and suggest some changes to the dampers to get the car handling the way I like it. The end result was a very nice car to drive, with a great power band and, despite being heavier, it is a much more balanced car, meaning the handling characteristics are a lot better than our EVO IX.
“The second day, on tarmac, was more about gaining further miles in the car, especially considering my lack of knowledge about setting up a car for tarmac. We still have six months before our first tarmac rally in Germany and fortunately we will have a test session beforehand, so we can make final adjustments to the car for tarmac there.
“The Ralliart engineers were really helpful, the car was fast and responsive, and I felt really comfortable and confident.”
Paddon is back in New Zealand briefly, where he’s working on his Team Green EVO IX that he’ll be using to content Rally New Zealand in May. Kennard returned straight into the demands of Blenheim’s grape harvest, the bulk of which will be completed by the time the pair need to get on their next flight to Istanbul and Rally Turkey which takes place from 16 to 19 April.
Paddon extends his thanks to sponsors EDL Fasteners, Castrol, Pirelli, RallyTours, Endless Brakes, Paddon, Radio Sport, Radio Hauraki, Contiki Tours, All About Signs, MCA Suspension, Vicarage Lane Wines, Northend Ford, In-Tune Automotive, Total Automotive, Resene, FMG, Reaction Racing, Pope Print and Bluebridge Ferries.
Paddon’s comprehensive website, http://www.hayden-paddon.com/, has full details of the team’s 2010 programme and offers opportunities to sign up for regular informative, chatty newsletters.
Hayden Paddon’s 2010 calendar
16-18 April – Rally Turkey (PSD)
6-9 May – Rally New Zealand (PWRC)
28-30 May – Rally Portugal (PSD)
2-4 July – International Rally of Whangarei, New Zealand
29-31 July – Rally Finland (PSD, PWRC)
20-22 August – Rally Germany (PSD, PWRC)
10-12 September – Rally Japan (PWRC)
30 September-3 October – Rally France (PSD, PWRC)
11-14 November – Rally Great Britain (PSD, PWRC)
For more information:
Hayden Paddon, Driver (+64 27 318 1748, email@example.com)
John Kennard, Co-Driver (+64 21 267 7936, firstname.lastname@example.org)
During events, Kate Gordon, Media Manager (+64 21 587 227, email@example.com)
To join Team Green’s media mailing list, or to sign up to receive Hayden’s personal updates from each rally, please see http://www.hayden-paddon.com/