13 September 2015
WRC Rally Australia: Paddon fifth after “strong weekend”
Hayden Paddon: While we didn't get the podium that we wanted, to be realistic, with the Volkswagens and the speed that they have, I don't think we had a chance of being on the podium unless one of them fell by the wayside.
Hyundai's Hayden Paddon says there are a lot of positives to take away from Rally Australia, even though he wasn't able to finish on the podium.
Paddon, who was promoted to the #8 i20 WRC for this round, the closest the New Zealander gets to a home rally, held third on Friday after the opening loop.
However, handling issues dropped him back in the afternoon and he finished the leg in sixth.
Nevertheless, he bounced back on Saturday and blitzed the filed in the morning, securing two consecutive stage wins, before again losing ground on the repeats.
In the end he had to settle for fifth, but felt this was probably not far off the maximum given the superior pace of the Volkswagens.
“It was a solid final day for us and a pleasing end to a positive weekend. I was happy with our pace today and enjoyed driving the car,” Paddon said.
“We were a bit in no man's land with a big gap in front of us and an equally big one behind, so we concentrated on bringing the car home in fifth - picking up important points which has helped the team to consolidate second place in the manufacturers' championship.”
“While we didn't get the podium that we wanted, to be realistic, with the Volkswagens and the speed that they have, I don't think we had a chance of being on the podium unless one of them fell by the wayside,” he added.
“Once that we sorted the front differential problems on Friday, the speed's been quite good and the car's been really nice to drive.
“We had a particularly good morning on Saturday with two stage wins but overall I have been happy with the car and my own performance. Last year we were three minutes off the lead, this year we were only one minute.
“We're well ahead of our team-mates so there are a lot of positives to take away from the weekend.
“It has also been great to see so much support from the Kiwi fans. It gives me such a buzz and makes Rally Australia a special event. Thanks to the team as well, for all their hard work this weekend.”
Meanwhile, team-mates Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo completed the event in seventh and eighth, the latter, driving with Paddon's usual #20 on his Hyundai, claiming a trio of stage wins on the opening morning.
“We have fulfilled our pre-rally target of retaining second place in the manufacturers' championship, which is the most important thing. Rally Australia is a very demanding event and we have worked well as a team to help get everything out of the car,” summarised Hyundai boss, Michal Nandan.
“Hayden had a strong weekend. He wanted a podium but he wasn't far off with two stage wins and a competitive performance throughout the weekend, so he can be proud of himself. Thierry picked up more championship points and Dani also acquitted himself well on unfamiliar stages.
“We can be reasonably satisfied with the event although we are always looking to reduce the gap to those at the front. We now move back to Europe where we will push hard in the final three events with second place in the Championship our number one objective.”
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