Hayden Paddon admits he didn't think he would be able to hold off Sebastien Ogier to win Rally Argentina, but in the end he “drove the wheels off the car” to ensure he took his maiden WRC triumph.
Paddon started the final leg with a 29.8 second lead, but saw that slashed to just 2.6secs in the penultimate test, when he was 19.8secs slower than Ogier.
The Hyundai pilot, however, responded brilliantly in the Power Stage, going quickest and completing the second-run through El Condor in 13mins 8secs, 11.7secs up on Ogier. It meant he took the victory with ease, 14.3secs up on his French rival. It also meant he took the Power Stage win too – his fifth stage win of the event.
“I can't believe it! I really didn't think we were going to be able to hang on,” Paddon confirmed after becoming the first New Zealander to ever win a WRC event. “It all came down to the Power Stage and we pushed really hard."
"It was particularly special to pull out that performance on El Condor. We've worked a lot on that stage because I've not been particularly strong on the tight and twisty stages. We drove the wheels off the car,” he added.
“It's a lot to take in at the moment.”
Paddon also reckons this is just the start for the new generation i20 WRC car and is convinced it won't be his - or the team's - last win this year.
“It's a fantastic result for me, John [Kennard – my co-driver] and the whole team. A huge amount of work has gone into the New Generation i20 WRC. I knew from the first test that we could win with it. I just didn't quite expect it to be so soon,” he continued.
“Everyone in the team, at the rallies and at Alzenau, thoroughly deserves this result. I am sure it's the start of a lot more to come!”