Rally Great Britain
27.10. - 30.10.2016
Proud to Sponsor our Kiwi Hayden Paddon
26 Oct 2016: Hayden Paddon is looking forward to tackling the gravel stages of this weekend’s Wales Rally GB with co-driver John Kennard, saying the forestry stages remind him of similar rally stages at home.
The New Zealanders head into the penultimate round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship in fourth position in their respective drivers’ and co-drivers’ championship points-tables. With the final two rounds of this year’s WRC – Wales and Australia – being run on the gravel surface that Paddon favours, they could still secure second place in the standings behind Sebastien Ogier who has already secured the 2016 championship title. The pair are also more familiar with the UK and Australian events than many others, having competed in Wales five times previously and four times in Australia.
“I have always enjoyed Wales Rally GB a lot,” says Paddon following a couple of days testing with Hyundai Motorsport to prepare for this event and further development of the team’s 2017 WRC contender. “It reminds me a lot of some of the forestry roads we get in New Zealand. Traditionally it’s always a wet, muddy rally, but this year – being run a little earlier than usual – could be a little different.”
Paddon says: “Testing has gone well – I really feel like we are in a good place with this year’s car on gravel now. It’s just a pity we couldn’t show that at the last event in Spain during Friday’s gravel stages, due to technical issues.”
At present, the long-range forecast for the 27-30 October rally is showing warmer and dryer weather than normal.
“How that will affect the rally and stages is an unknown as it’s not normal, so we will assess as the rally progresses.
“Not only do we have to be fast in Wales, but we must also look after the car as there is no mid-leg service on any of the three days, just a tyre regroup.
“We want to be challenging near the front again. This is a rally I have always enjoyed, but we have never been able to put together a good result here, something we would definitely like to change this year.”
Hyundai Motorsport has entered three New Generation i20 WRCs in Wales Rally GB, which will feature the championship’s first stage in England since 1999. Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo will return for the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team in the #3 and #4 cars respectively. Paddon and Kennard, who finished fifth in Wales last year, will compete in the #20 Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team entry.
The 22-stage Wales Rally GB will be run over a total of 332.87 km with a huge 962.87 km of touring stages which sees competitors travel south from the Deeside service park on the northern coast to stages in the middle of Wales and back each day. The rally gets underway on Friday with an itinerary that comprises over half of the total distance with 178km of challenging gravel stages. Stage names like Hafren and Sweet Lamb are familiar to rally aficionados, however they’ll be run in reverse direction this year, while Saturday also features stages that have not appeared on the rally since 1997. The unpredictable early winter British weather will almost certainly play a part with soft compound tyres needed if conditions turn cold and wet.
3rd Oct 2016: Hayden Paddon and co-driver John Kennard were happier with their performance on the final day of Tour de Corse as they secured sixth position.
The New Zealanders delivered a second-quickest stage time on Sunday’s (CEST) opening monster 53.78 km special stage and a fastest spilt time on roads still wet from overnight rain. This result reduced the gap to fifth-placed Craig Breen by over 20 seconds on these final two stages of the World Rally Championship event dubbed the rally of 10,000 corners.
“Obviously a tough weekend, but okay, sixth place is still points in the bag,” said Paddon on Sunday evening having struggled to find the pace he felt he should have on this twisty, tarmac rally.
“We were able to make some progress today by reverting back to my old natural driving style and going back to basics a little bit. We can be pleased we made some progress today; that’s especially good going into Rally Spain in two weeks’ time. It gives us a bit more confidence, gives us some different information and data we can sit down with over the next week and make sure we come back stronger in Spain.
“For sure, I’m not patient enough to not be competitive, so I’m more fired up now more than ever to try and conquer the tarmac, to put all the mindset aside whether it’s tarmac or gravel and just get on and drive the car. I’m looking forward to Rally Spain to make amends for this rally. We want to be more competitive and I know we can compete up the front, we’ve just got to put all the pieces of the puzzle together.”
Paddon’s Hyundai Motorsport team-mate Thierry Neuville finished in a strong second place behind rally winner Sebastien Ogier while Dani Sordo secured seventh overall, 30.8 seconds behind Paddon.
With the next WRC round in Spain getting underway on 13 October, Paddon and Kennard are also taking the opportunity for more rallying by competing at Rally Legend with Hyundai Italy and the 2014 WRC car over the weekend of 8-9 October. “It’s a chance to go sideways and put on a show for the hundreds of thousands of spectators at this exhibition event based out of San Marino,” says Paddon.
New Zealand’s world rallying duo Hayden Paddon and John Kennard have a clear focus as they head to the famed Tour de Corse rally this weekend.
Paddon says they are focused on continually improving their performance on tarmac surface rallies. The 29 September to 2 October French World Rally Championship event marks the second of three consecutive European tarmac rallies at the tail end of the WRC season, so performance on this surface is a vital component of Paddon’s current and future results.
“Obviously we want to be more competitive than Germany [where they finished fifth] and I think this rally suits us better, but the goals are not result driven,” says Paddon. “It’s about improvement and progress to be competing at the front in the future.”
This is just the second time that Paddon and Kennard have contested the Corsican rally after it returned to the WRC calendar last year. The Kiwis secured a well-deserved fifth place on the rain-interrupted 2015 edition.
Paddon says it’s a pleasure to drive the Corsican roads. “This is what I would call a more traditional tarmac rally with wider roads, twisty but flowing. The grip levels are often consistent and you can refer to more a circuit racing type of driving style.”
This year, 70 per cent of the special stages are new and the total stage distance is 20 per cent longer. Despite still only having ten special stages – the fewest on the calendar – Tour de Corse is second only to Rally Mexico in terms of its total competitive distance at 390.92 km.
“Yes, a lot of the route is new but Corsica is Corsica. It’s called the ‘rally of 10,000 corners’ for a reason as it’s constant corner after corner and most look the same. That’s why pace notes are more important than ever on this rally, something John and I work very hard on.
“It’s certainly a unique itinerary, with less but longer stages. But that doesn’t change our approach – we have to be on it from start to finish.”
Long-time co-driver John Kennard adds: “The huge number of corners means the average speed is very low, just over 90 km/h, compared to 126 km/h in Finland. But it also means the info coming from the notes is quite relentless and the moments to breath when reading them are sometimes quite few.”
Since Rallye Deutschland mid-August, Paddon’s continued to work on his tarmac driving skills.
“With the long gap between Germany and Corsica, it’s been a good chance to refresh a little, especially because the next five weeks are going to be crazy busy with four rallies and four tests. This downtime allowed us to investigate a bit what happened in Germany and work on some things to improve from that rally. We have also had some good test sessions with the team.”
The rally officially gets underway with a start ceremony on Thursday evening on the west coast of the island before Friday’s schedule covers 157 km of special stages – two stages tackled twice with the added challenge of teams not having a midday service. Saturday is the longest with two loops of two stages totalling 169.04 km. Sunday’s final morning of action in the east comprises just two stages, but includes the longest of the entire rally, the 53.78 km Antisanti-Poggio di Nazza, which will prove decisive ahead of the 10.42 km rally-concluding power stage. Tyre wear on the rough and abrasive asphalt is a consideration while navigating tight, twisty mountain roads often bordered on one side by a rock face and the other a steep drop into the sea.
For Tour de Corse, Paddon and Kennard compete under the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team banner in the #20 Hyundai NG i20 WRC, while team-mates Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo are in the #3 and #4 cars respectively competing for the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team. Paddon and Kennard are one of 12 WRC crews competing in the 10th round of this year’s WRC season.
Paddon and Kennard hold equal third place on the drivers and co-drivers’ championship points-tables respectively, matching their Hyundai Motorsport team-mates Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul.
Hayden Paddon says he’s looking forward to continuing to improve his performance on tarmac surfaces as he and co-driver John Kennard compete in the German World Rally Championship round this coming weekend.
The 18-21 August running of ADAC Rallye Deutschland, the first of four consecutive tarmac WRC events, represents the fourth time the Kiwi pair has competed in what’s regarded as the most difficult asphalt event of the season, but it’s only the second time Paddon and Kennard have competed in Germany in a WRC car.
“Last year it was a dive into the unknown with our relative lack of experience on tarmac,” said Paddon after testing his New Generation i20 WRC car on a set of closed tarmac roads with Hyundai Motorsport in Germany. “I think my driving on this surface has improved a lot in the last 12 months. It was a good test here and I’m learning all the time.”
Paddon’s preparation for the 306.80 km of competition in the Mosel region has included track time in a GT car with the help of French asphalt-specialist rally driver Nicholas Bernadi and further practice on a racing simulator.
“I have to be realistic and open minded to learn. I have competed in something like 150 gravel rallies in my life and maybe only seven tarmac rallies. It does require a different driving style and technique and this is something I need to adapt to. The recent track and simulator work has helped a lot.”
Paddon says Rallye Deutschland is like three rallies in one. “With the stages varying from narrow vineyard lanes, fast public roads and the bumpy Panzerplatte military area, as well as localised weather generally playing a part, there are lots of challenges to be wary of.
“Saturday will be the key day with two passes through the 40 testing kilometres of Panzerplatte. We have seen in the past big gaps emerge here and, with most other stages being shorter, this will be a key test of the rally. There are a couple of new stages but otherwise the route is similar to what we have done in the past.
“Overall, I’m looking forward to the opportunity to improve on tarmac. There is no pressure or expectations from myself or the team so the focus is improving for the future so we can start to mount a challenge on asphalt rallies next year.”
Based in the city of Trier in the west of Germany, Rallye Deutschland features 306km of competitive action over 18 stages. Friday sees competitors tackle five tests, four of which are in the vineyards of Mosel followed by the new Ollmuth stage, just south of Trier. Saturday is the longest day of the rally with just under 150 competitive kilometres including two runs over Panzerplatte Lang at 40.8km each. Just four stages on Sunday are split between the Mosel vineyards and the Sauertal test in the Eifel hills near the Luxembourg border, which acts as the power stage for the second and final run.
The unpredictable late summer weather always makes tyre choice an important factor, placing a premium on up-to-date information from the safety note crews. To add to the complexity, road characteristics can vary significantly even within the same group of stages, meaning that set-up and tyre choice is often a calculated compromise on the low-grip surfaces.
Paddon and Kennard compete under the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team banner in the #20 Hyundai NG i20 WRC, while team-mates Thierry Neuville is in the #3 car and Dani Sordo, who returns after an injury lay-off in the #4 car, are competing for the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team. Neuville and Sordo created a historic one-two finish for Hyundai Motorsport at Rallye Deutschland in 2014 and the team is looking to revive this form at their home event just two hours from their headquarters in Alzenau.
27.10. - 30.10.2016
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