“Well, not much to report on today. Day three of Rally France only consisted of two short runs on a super special stage and two runs through a 24km stage in an army training camp, but the second run on that stage was cancelled due to too many spectators, so effectively the day consisted of only one proper stage.”
“However, that one stage was incredibly difficult. There was a lot of mud around like yesterday, but in this case it was on top of smooth, new asphalt, which made it like ice in many places.”
“The combination of this surface and a small problem we had with the car, meant we had 3 full spins in the stage, but we surprisingly still set a competitive time. Other than that, it was really just a matter of bringing it home and putting this rally down to experience.”
“The spectators here have been absolutely amazing. A lot of people who have been around the sport for a long time say they haven’t seen this many spectators on an event for many years. There were just thousands of fans lining all the touring stages and the special stages. In fact, there were so many spectators in your line of vision in places that it felt like the old Group B days, speeding down a straight and seeing the spectators on the side step back a little as they realise how fast the car is coming! Incredible!”
“Of course I have been very disappointed with this rally and the 6 points that we salvaged for 7th in PWRC is not enough to keep our title chances alive. That is the worst part; one bad round and all that hard work earlier in the year is to no avail. In saying that, it has happened and I have now forgotten about it and must focus both on securing a budget to allow us to try to win a world title next year and on Rally GB.”
“After this weekend I am really fired up for Rally GB and showing what we can do. It will also be good to be back on my preferred surface, gravel, with effectively nothing to lose. In the meantime I will stay in the UK, where I have some work experience arranged in a rally workshop and also time to work further on next year’s plans. I will also use the time to go to WRC Rally Spain and IRC Rally Scotland as a spectator, where I hope to have the chance to speak to some people regarding 2011 and plans that we are trying really hard to put in place.”
“Thanks everyone. I will keep you posted in the coming days, with our media statement and video diary to come.”
Day One – Paddon found it strange to be back on tarmac after the gravel stages of Japan, but he attacked the slippery Alsace roads from the start. Having recovered from a small accident on shakedown where he clouted the back of his Mitsubishi, he was prepared for the tough conditions and took an early lead.
Despite oversmoking his brakes on the opening stages, Paddon won SS1-SS3 and it was only when he got two punctures costing him over 40 seconds and stopped to change a tyre on SS4 that the young Kiwi conceded the lead to defending champion Araújo. Happy with the performance of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X he has driven for his Pirelli Star Driver rounds this season, Paddon entered the afternoon aiming to chip away at Araújo’s lead.
However, after his fourth stage win on SS5, disaster struck when his alternator stopped charging his battery properly and it began to lose power, forcing him retire on SS7, disappointed not to continue the battle with his Portuguese rival.
Day Two – A spin on a fast right-hand bend only 2km into SS9, the opening stage of Day Two, set the tone for a difficult day for Paddon.
His Mitsubishi’s exhaust was squashed as he skidded backward through a junction into the vineyards, causing him to stall three times and spin again in the same stage. After bending his steering arm on SS11, the young Kiwi then went off on SS15 and picked up two punctures. With only one spare, he was unable to continue for the day.
Day Three – After four spins on SS18, Paddon drove home steadily to finish in seventh. He claimed six Championship points, but a tough weekend left his hopes of catching Araújo and Flodin and winning the 2010 PWRC shattered.