Paddon perseveres to hold ninth in German WRC rally
Kiwi rally pairing Hayden Paddon and John Kennard perservered to hold on to ninth place in their first tarmac rally of the World Rally Championship season at the weekend.
Sebastien Ogier ended Volkswagen's win drought on Rally Germany at the head of a 1-2-3 for the German manufacturer, securing his 30th World Rally Championship win in the process.
Ogier had set his intentions out early in the rally, leading at the end of a fraught battle with Jari-Matti Latvala on day one.
A perfectly timed dominant run through the second Panzerplatte Long test turned out to be the decider for the Frenchman, who doubled his lead over Latvala during Saturday.
Despite Latvala clawing back some time on Sunday morning, Ogier cruised home to win the rally by 23 seconds.
Paddon and Kennard in their Hyundai had persevered to reach the end of the second day at their first tarmac rally of the season, in ninth place.
Their goal for the German event was to learn and gain valuable experience on tarmac. They made the most of a largely positive run through Friday’s eight stages among the vineyards of the Moselle region (European time). They finished the day in eight place overall and were encouraged by their pace relative to their Hyundai Motorsport team-mates Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo, both of whom have a lot more experience on tarmac and, last year, secured a history-making one-two victory for Hyundai on this event.
Of Friday’s performance where a sixth quickest stage time was their best result, Paddon commented: “We knew heading into this rally that we would have to use it as a learning experience and to build our confidence on tarmac, a terrain with which I am not as familiar as gravel. It’s not been a bad first day and we’re a bit closer to our team-mates than what we were expecting here so this is a positive.
"But obviously there’s a lot of things to learn, a lot of things to take in and we changing things as we go to try and improve. We’ve had a few tough stages but we have to be realistic and focus on finding improvements where we can. It’s a bitter pill after we’ve been competing for top-fives in recent rallies but we’ll persevere and see what tomorrow brings.”
However, on Saturday Paddon, and Kennard were unknowingly stymied by a turbo-related technical issue which slowed the Kiwis on all stages of the event’s longest day.
“It’s been a difficult afternoon,” Paddon said after completing Saturday’s nine stages to hold ninth position ahead of the rally’s final day.
“Unfortunately we’ve had some small issues with the turbo which cost us a bit of power and unfortunately cost us a lot of time. Nevertheless we’ve been able to hold our position in the top ten. The boys will able to fix the problem tonight and we’ll come out tomorrow to try and show a lot more competitive times which I know we can do.
“We’ve been making some steps forward with the driving and setup but because of these other issues, that hasn’t shown in the times. Tomorrow’s another day, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Paddon’s team-mates Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville finished the rally in fourth and fifth position.