3 March 2015
Rally Mexico: Paddon fully focused for Rally Mexico
Hayden Paddon hopes to carry momentum into Rally Mexico after making his career-best WRC finish of fifth place in Sweden
Hayden Paddon says he is focusing on his best performance on unfamiliar territory for the third round of the World Rally Championship in Mexico.
Coming off the back of his career-best WRC result of fifth place at Rally Sweden, the New Zealander hopes to maintain his momentum ahead of the third round in Mexico.
Paddon switches back to his number 20 Hyundai i20 WRC car after filling in for the injured Dani Sordo in Sweden. The Hyundai driver says he learnt a vast amount last time out and hopes to apply it for Rally Guanajuato Mexico.
“It was a good learning exercise in that no matter how bad things may feel at the time, you just need to focus, put your head down, try not to make any mistakes and you never know what the end result may be,” Paddon said. “So despite the good result in Sweden, we remain focused and realistic for the first few rallies of the year.”
This year's Rally Mexico will mark his debut at the event and has only ever experienced the recce before, so feels he is entering the unknown on a well-trodden track for his rivals.
“Even though we did recce here last year, that familiarity which other competitors have with this route will be a hard gap to bridge, it's a little difficult as we have not driven the notes at speed,” he added. “There is more work to do during recce this coming week to visualise speeds and lines, and translate that into our pace notes.”
However, in a similar way to last time out in Sweden, Mexico has the ability to claim a large number of retirements in its unforgiving environment. The rally begins at 1,800 metres above sea level before rising to a peak of 2,700 metres which seriously effects the performance of the cars running on much thinner air.
“Mexico often has a high attrition rate, so if we can push at a comfortable pace and avoid problems, then a good result could be on the cards,” Paddon added.
“I do enjoy the nature of the roads here, a mix of fast and technical. The altitude of the route which takes us into the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountains north and east of León to over 2700 metres above sea level is the biggest handicap though for all the cars, with up to 20 per cent power loss expected.”
The New Zealander has been preparing for Mexico with two days of gravel roads tests in Spain along with fellow Hyundai drivers Sordo and Thierry Neuville.
“We started with our base gravel set-up from late last year and focused on improving some key areas that we have struggled with, particularly the understeer. We found a really good compromise and also, in terms of my driving style, quite a time difference between our new settings and the old settings.
“So these are positive gains and most importantly I feel more comfortable in the car than ever. Of course the proof is in the pudding once we get on event but from a test perspective it was one of the best yet.”
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