Rally de Espana: Paddon eighth on WRC car debut

Hayden Paddon: “It has been an amazing experience this weekend to be involved with M-Sport and we have enjoyed every minute of it...”
Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team guest driver Hayden Paddon finished his first event in a World Rally car in a very credible eight place on Rally de Espana last weekend.

Paddon started the final day of the Spanish mixed surface event in ninth place, having set the eighth-quickest stage times on five of Saturday's six tarmac stages and dropping back to ninth overall after a spin on Saturday's final super special stage.

With six stages and 138.54km of predominantly gravel roads to complete, the Kiwi knew had a long tough day ahead as he focused on his core goal of getting the car to the finish. The early morning gravel stages were made more challenging for all competitors with dust hanging in the still morning air and blinding low sunshine making visibility difficult.

Paddon, as befits a competitive professional looking to make his mark, not only hoped to finish, but to finish well, but described the day as “trying”.

“Moving to my favoured surface of gravel, I had high hopes to be competitive. However as we had never driven the car on gravel before it was going to be a tall task – a fact we found out on the first corner of the first stage,” he said.

“The Ford Fiesta RS WRC is a fantastic car and really enjoyable. However in gravel spec today it felt different to anything I have driven before. The huge suspension travel meant the car was moving around a lot and I found it difficult to build any confidence and have a good feel for the car.”

Paddon's stage times – varying from 11th to eighth-quickest – kept him comfortably in ninth overall, but he wasn't in a position to challenge experienced WRC campaigner Martin Prokop in a similar Fiesta running in front of him. The demise of Citroen's Dani Sordo allowed Paddon and others to move up the leader-board.

“During mid-day service we made many changes to the car to help me get more of a feeling,” he continued. “These did improve things for the afternoon as we closed the gap to the front runners, although still the car felt very foreign. Other than losing the brakes on the last stage, it was a relatively clean day for us.”

The 26-year-old is already reviewing his performance, keen to improve and be ready for any future opportunities in the World Rally Championship.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Hayden Paddon (NZL) John Kennard (NZL), Ford Fiesta WRC
Hayden Paddon (NZL) John Kennard (NZL), Ford Fiesta WRC
Hayden Paddon (NZL) John Kennard (NZL), Ford Fiesta WRC
Hayden Paddon (NZL) John Kennard (NZL), Ford Fiesta WRC
Hayden Paddon (NZL) John Kennard (NZL), Ford Fiesta WRC
Hayden Paddon (NZL) John Kennard (NZL), Ford Fiesta WRC
Hayden Paddon (NZL) John Kennard (NZL), Ford Fiesta WRC
Hayden Paddon (NZL) John Kennard (NZL), Ford Fiesta WRC

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November 04, 2013 10:50 AM

He simply does not have what it takes at this level. He has looked good at times in the past at S2000 due to lack of Real competition. If we compare paddons debut performance to that of Loeb, gronholm, solberg, oiger, latvala etc.. The difference is they all were immediately on the pace, they all made an impact that the rallying world noticed and remembered.


October 28, 2013 12:43 PM

Well that certainly wanst the result that i was expecting as Paddon has always dominated WRC2 in an S2000 Car not even an RRC but i suppose there must be a huge difference between an S2000 Skoda and a WRC Fiesta This plus the fact that he had never driven the car on gravel before the Rally. Maybe he will get a shot at a WRC seat for 2014 with someone like Lotos or Qatar WRT but i cant see him being a works driver just yet

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