Hayden Paddon and co-driver Seb Marshall finished eighth in the 17-20 August running of Rallye Deutschland. The pair achieved their pre-event goals to finish and gain valuable experience of the notoriously tricky, technical tarmac rally, so the Kiwi-Brit pairing were pleased to get through with no mistakes.
Despite having suffered two punctures over the weekend which cost them time on both Friday and Saturday, Paddon and Marshall kept pushing to be rewarded with some top-three times over the three days that took them through narrow vineyard stages on Friday, bumpy, grip-changing Baumholder military roads on Saturday and fast country roads on Sunday. The pair was the highest-placed Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crew during a disappointing weekend for the Germany-based World Rally Team after Paddon’s Hyundai team-mates Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville both had to utilise Rally 2 regulations to re-join the event.
Rain on Friday meant the seven twisty special stages through the vineyards of Mosel were slick with water and the mud pulled onto the stage as drivers cut corners to gain the straightest line.
Holding ninth overall at the end of Friday, Paddon said: “Okay, we knew this rally was always going to be challenging, but today’s been more than a challenge especially with the rain and the mud this afternoon. This morning our pace was a little better. We struggled with a puncture unfortunately that we’re not sure how we picked up as we didn’t hit anything or cut any corners that could have caused it, so this was a bit of a mystery and unfortunately cost us a minute. Then this afternoon, we simply didn’t have the confidence in rain and mud. It’s very, very difficult to judge the grip. I simply don’t enough experience in these conditions to be able to push, especially knowing that in our position, we obviously can’t afford to make any mistakes or put it off the road. There are plenty of things to work on.”
Fine conditions for Saturday’s nine special stages and running second on the road with a cleaner line boosted Paddon’s confidence, although a second puncture – this time on the first run through the 41.97km Panzerplatte – meant he had to stop to change the tyre, losing nearly two minutes on that stage to the frontrunners.
They wrapped up the day with two top three stage times and a couple more top five times to hold eighth place overall with Paddon saying: “Today’s been a much better day. Obviously with the conditions being drier, it was easier to drive with good confidence and actually be able to enjoy the stages. We’ve been able to set several top three stage times, we’ve have many good competitive split times and this is very encouraging.
“We’re certainly more competitive here this year than what we were last year on these dry stages, and if you take our punctures out of the equation, then we would be up in the top five fighting. We have to look at the positives. Tomorrow we’ll try some different things on the car, use this as a bit of a live test session, see if we can improve some things with both the car setup and my driving and use that for the next rally on tarmac in Spain.”
The pair wrapped up Sunday’s final four stages with a trio of top 10 times plus one second-quickest time to secure eighth place.
Considering the event overall, Paddon said: “When conditions were more consistent, we showed some improvement in performance compared to last year, so there are some positives to take away from this tough weekend. I knew this would be one of the hardest rallies of the season, so I am pleased that we made it to the end, and showing better stage times.
“I am going back home to New Zealand for a month, during which I will also take part in a few gravel rallies, so I am looking forward to that. Then, it’s back to Europe when we will begin our push for a good result to finish the season.”
The WRC takes a six-week break before returning for Rally de España, which takes place from 5-8 October. The Spanish round of the championship, round 11 of 13 in 2017, is the only mixed surface rally of the season, tackling gravel and tarmac terrain.
Paddon and Hayden Paddon RallySport Global (HPRG) Ltd appreciate the support of their exclusive partners, Hyundai New Zealand, Pak’nSave and Z Energy, and associate sponsors Scott Sports and All About Signs Timaru.
Final Overall Classification - Rallye Deutschland
1 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Ford Fiesta WRC 2:57:31.7
2 A. Mikkelsen A. Jaeger Citroën C3 WRC +16.4
3 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Ford Fiesta WRC +30.4
4 J. Hänninen K. Lindström Toyota Yaris WRC +1:49.2
5 C. Breen S. Martin Citroën C3 WRC +2:01.5
6 E. Evans D. Barritt Ford Fiesta WRC +2:03.4
7 J.M. Latvala M. Anttila Toyota Yaris WRC +3:58.2
8 H. Paddon S. Marshall Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +4:32.4
2017 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings
After round 10
1 S. Ogier 177
2 T. Neuville 160
3 O. Tanak 144
4 J.M Latvala 123
5 D. Sordo 89
6 E. Evans 87
7 C. Breen 64
8 J. Hänninen 58
9 H. Paddon 55
10 E. Lappi 49
For more information, please contact:
Kate Gordon-Smith, media manager, HPRG Ltd
email@example.com, 021 587 227