Paddon owes team to back-up teammates
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Kiwi Hayden Paddon is out to repay his Hyundai World Rally Team this weekend at Rally Germany as he plays a support role to his more experienced teammates.
The 30-year-old has suffered a wretched year on the world championship with mechanical failure and mistakes plaguing his season. Mixed in with disappointing finishes however has been plenty of promising signs and while he is out of title contention and the pressure to bag points lifted to a degree the Kiwi realizes he needs to be selfless and help his teammates out.
Belgian teammate Thierry Neuville shares the lead of the championship with four-time champ Sebastien Ogier of M-Sport. The Ford outfit leads the manufacturers' championship though and Paddon would like Neuville to concentrate on winning rallies so he feels the need to be the safeguard in terms of manufacturers' points.
"I am very mindful of it," he told The Herald. "I know I have cost the team some points this year with some mistakes and also some technical problems as well.
"I think it is important that I do play the team role this weekend and that is playing the back-up role to Thierry and Dani [Sordo]. Hopefully they are in a position to fight up the front and they need to be able to do that without having to worry about the manufacturers' championship so that is our role - to stay there in the background and pick up the pieces if there are problems."
At the same time Paddon is hoping to gain further tarmac experience on what is his least favoured surface.
"It is obviously a big challenge of its own - getting back on the tarmac for the first time since Corsica," he said.
"We will be using it as a chance to get experience - I know we sound like a broken record - but at the end of the day I am still not comfortable fighting at the front of the field against guys that grew up on this surface.
"That is something we have to be patient with and to help do that do as many miles as we can, which means finishing the rally."
The test ahead is quite different each day with three quite unique legs laid out in Rally Germany.
"We are up in the vineyards in the first leg with a lot of hidden corners - often very fast but narrow and tricky with a lot of hairpins," Paddon explained.
"Day two is out at the Baumholder army range - not so technically demanding in terms of road character but a lot of surface changes.
"Sunday we are out in the fields with new stages. There are lots of big long straights and some 90 degree corners.
"The weather will play a part again this week with having to get tyre choices right and it could make stages tricky if the weather comes into play."
A total of 311km across 21 special stages await drivers this weekend in what is a home rally of sorts for Paddon's Hyundai team, who are based just a couple of hours away. The rally starts Thursday evening local time (Friday morning NZT) and is located not far from the France and Luxembourg border.