14 January 2012
Paddon preparing for exciting year in Europe
Paddon says the aim for Sweden is to get a comfortable set-up. He has around 100 kilometres of testing scheduled in Spain the week after he arrives and will then get a short test on Swedish roads near the WRC event's Karlstad base.
“After Sweden, we have a proper two-day test on gravel before our first gravel rally in Portugal," he revealed, "With that test and gravel being the surface I'm most familiar with, I know I want a car to do on that surface and will be able to focus a lot more on the set-up then. We'll also have an extensive tarmac test later in the year as well smaller shakedown tests on the Monday before each event. I'm always keen to make the most of these pre-event tests – because you get to set the car up for the conditions and you're in the car 2-3 days, driving at full speed, before the event. At the heart of this is the fact that ASM Motorsport is very keen for us to do as well as we can this year and to do as much testing as we can manage financially.”
Paddon is pleased with how the connection with a new team is progressing.
“Alex, who heads ASM, is great and the team's really good; really passionate," he smiled, "Coming from a family team background, I guess it's been a bit hard for me to let go of all the car and team management, because I do like being involved with all aspects, but I am learning to let go and focus more on the driving and training side of things.
“However, this year, it's going to be great to my good friend Neil, who's always been my mechanic, coming over to work with the team at every event and Katie is taking more of a team role too. Obviously we have our directors in New Zealand involved also so there's still a strong involvement from home. The team allows us quite a lot of input and we'll be living pretty close to the workshop so I might even find myself in the workshop, trying to figure out how to get more out of the car myself! But realistically as I keep moving forward in the sport, I won't be able to keep working on cars the way I have done in the past, so I'm getting used to that.”
One of the key things Paddon says he took from his championship-winning year in 2011 was the more time he spent on WRC events, the more accustomed to it all he got.
“It makes a massive difference going back to events for the second or third time," he explained, "You don't really even have to think about driving quicker, just having that previous experience makes you subconsciously go quickly. So we have learnt that the experience factor is a really big part of it all and that's why you have to keep going back and doing the rallies to keep getting the miles.
“Last year, we could see our speed on tarmac certainly improved, and our speed from event to event took steps forward as the season progressed – there were some significant steps in performance pre-Portugal and than another one before Australia. Doing events for the first time isn't so bad, but it's certainly easier going back to events you've done before, you've got that much more confidence and can commit to the pace notes more.”
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