New Zealand’s most successful rally driver, Hayden Paddon, is aiming for a consistent pace on this week’s Rally Argentina, where he’ll be competing in his Hyundai i20 WRC car with co-driver John Kennard.
“Argentina is going to be a very rough rally this year,” says Paddon from his base in Frankfurt, Germany. “There has been a lot of rain and road damage in the past few weeks, so the objective is to set a consistent pace and try and avoid problems. If we can do that, then we hope we can finish well within the top eight.”
The Argentinian event (from April 23 to 26) has the Kiwis back competing under the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team banner. Paddon says previous experience on the only South American event on the WRC circuit isn’t of huge value.
“We were here once before, four years ago, and now, none of the stages are the same. But any experience is good and we will draw on that as much as we can.” In preparation for his third WRC event of this season, Paddon joined Hyundai Motorsport teammates for a test in Portugal.
“We worked on two key aspects. One related to the set-up direction we went for in Mexico. While it felt good and was driver-friendly, it did not produce the grip and traction that we needed. We now have some new set-up strategies that are working well in testing. Secondly, we have closely identified the key areas where my driving differs from our teammates, and we are trying to adapt some of that.”
The route is also different to most other WRC events — 12 special stages and the Friday and Saturday itineraries comprise two repeated runs of two long stages, plus Sunday’s two runs of the famous El Condor test.
Paddon doesn’t rate the long stages as any more difficult than shorter ones. “The same preparation and mental approach go for both. The key in Argentina with the small number of competitive stages and long touring stages will be switching on and off mentally during the long gaps between stages.”
Hayden Paddon’s 2015 WRC schedule with Hyundai Motorsport