Production Car World Rally Championship competitor Hayden Paddon says his second place on the recent Rally Germany surprised him – but he’s aiming to one better next time out on Rally Japan.
The 23-year-old Pirelli Star Driver is blending his six-round FIA-run programme with a selection of his events in his own Mitsubishi Lancer. The New Zealander will be pressing his own car into action on the Sapporo-based event later this month in a bid to move up the P-WRC standings from his current third position.
Paddon said: “The result completely exceeded my expectations. We remain in third in the championship, but closed in on second-placed Patrik Flodin, who was third in Germany. However, we still have an extra nominated P-WRC round up our sleeve while the two drivers ahead of us – Armindo Araujo and Flodin – have already done four of their six nominated events. When we head to Rally Japan for our fourth P-WRC round we’ll be aiming for maximum points.”
Paddon added that he felt his German speed came partly from the chance to test his PSD Mitsubishi prior to the Trier event, offering him vital experience of asphalt – a surface on which he hadn’t competed before.
“The biggest thing we found [at the test] was the difference in performance between the hard and soft compound tyres,” said Paddon. “But it was also really useful time in the car on the new surface. As well as this, I had done some work in Britain with a driver trainer Rob Wilson. He helped me a lot, showing me how to get through corners the quickest way.”
Ahead of Rally Japan, Paddon’s Team Green Mitsubishi currently has a 100 per cent record in this year’s P-WRC, with the Kiwi having won his home round of the series back in May.
He and Kiwi co-driver John Kennard also won the International Rally of Whangarei, New Zealand’s round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship.
EMAIL RELEASE FROM HAYDEN PADDON
Things are well here in Japan, as we prepare for this week’s rally. The big news over the course of the weekend was the huge earthquake that struck my home area of Canterbury in New Zealand. There has been a lot of damage caused, but luckily no fatalities, with family and friends all fine. As I came to Japan from the UK I was unaffected by the disaster, but Neil, one of our mechanics, was delayed a day flying out of Christchurch.
Since arriving everything has been going well as we settle into the area. Over the course of Sunday and Monday we’ve had a chance to finish a few bits on the car, unpack the container and set-up the service park. I must admit it was a relief to see the rally car again, in one piece in its shipping container after 4 weeks in transit. Again, a huge thanks to Cameron Sea and Air Freight for making it hassle free and easy to get our container here.
Today we headed south to a rally cross circuit for the PWRC test. As roads for testing are very difficult to find here in Japan, the rally cross track was the best option. Although not representative of the stages, the road surface was of a similar character, with a soft, sandy surface that became very rutted over the course of the day.
It was great to be back in the Team Green Evo 9 and also to have some gravel under the wheels again. I did take a run or two to get back in the groove with our car and into gravel again, after Rally Germany on tarmac in the Pirelli Evo 10, but all is feeling good. We made some changes to the set-up of the car, but as we have not seen the stages yet we are unsure if they are in the right direction. However, after the next two days of recce we will have a lot more of an understanding of the roads and surface. You can see the following link for a short video from today’s testing.
The weather here so far has been very warm, with hot, humid 30 degree days. Thanks to the help that we are getting from a local weather expert, Jiro, we know it will remain like this for the next couple of days, although there is a mild typhoon expected to pass to the south of us in the weekend, which may give us a little rain from around its edge.
The rest of the team arrive tomorrow, while John and I start recce. In the meantime the guys have a bit of work to do on the car, before the event starts on Thursday night with two runs on the Sapporo Dome Super Special stage.
Keep up to date at our website www.haydepaddon.com and www.wrc.com throughout the week for news and results. I will update you again after recce, by which time we will have more of an understanding of this event. Looking forward to it!
Photos: Willy Weynes and APSM.tv