Hayden Paddon says he's happy to attack Rallye Monte Carlo in the older generation of the Hyundai i20 WRC machine for his maiden outing at the event, as he begins his first full World Rally Championship campaign.
The New Zealander impressed for Hyundai last year after competing in every event expect for the season-opening Rallye Monte Carlo and was also entered in three rallies in the manufacturer squad.
For 2016, Paddon has been handed a full WRC campaign for Hyundai with the Korean manufacturer deploying at rotation policy between its three drivers – Paddon, Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville – for the manufacturer slots and the 28-year-old will start 2016 in the second string team.
Paddon also starts the new season in the 2015-specification Hyundai i20 WRC challenger with only Sordo being handed the new car for Rallye Monte Carlo. The Kiwi is relishing his debut at the mixed conditions event and says he preferred to take on the season opener in a car he is very familiar in rather than the new-spec i20.
“I have obviously seen and heard a lot about Rallye Monte Carlo and so I am pleased to finally be rallying there,” Paddon said. “We will be using the old car for our Monte debut, which I think will be helpful for us to learn the stages. On such an event like Monte-Carlo, being in a car we know well will help us learn the event better so we're entirely comfortable with this team decision.
“It is one of the most challenging events on the calendar, so the old car will help us adapt to the conditions. It's is a rally of compromise with tyre selection one of the most critical aspects of each stage. It's in these circumstances where you have to make your strategy call. It's almost like a game of chess, which will be enjoyable.”
Paddon's only previous experience at Rallye Monte Carlo is two recce runs and says any notes or information gathered from them could go out the window if the weather conditions change hugely during the event.
“We have done recce twice before, so this helps a little that we have some base notes,” he explained. “However, conditions often change a lot between recce and the rally and the job of our gravel-ice crew is more important than ever here. The biggest challenge during the rally will be translating their information of things I have not seen before and adapting to it as best I can.”