Paddon set up for first day of WRC Rally Australia
New Zealand rally driver Hayden Paddon managed seven runs through the WRC Rally Australia Shakedown stage yesterday.
Paddon used Thursday’s pre-rally hit-out as a chance to fine tune his Hyundai i20 WRC and also get back into gravel driving mode after the most recent round of the world championship was on tarmac in Germany.
Paddon said he was happy with his Hyundai i20 WRC ahead of the Coffs Harbour World Championship event which starts tomorrow morning.
Volkswagen driver Andreas Mikkelsen, Norway, during the Shakedown session of WRC Rally Australia. Picture/ Greg Henderson Photography.
He was eighth quickest among the 11 drivers in the main WRC category. The top 10 was separated by exactly four seconds with championship leader Sebastien Ogier (France) setting the pace with a 2m49.4s run through the 4.98km Hydes Creek stage.
Ogier’s Volkswagen team-mates Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) and Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) completed the top three. Paddon clocked 2m 52.0s on his best run.
``We weren’t really focusing on times so much as trying to get the feeling for the car,’’ said Paddon.
``It’s been a while since Finland which was our last rally on gravel.
``We did seven runs in total and I don’t think we’ve ever done seven runs in Shakedown before.
``We tried a few different damper settings and came back here (the central service park) a couple of times.
``For the last run it felt really good but we had a spin in the first corner which didn’t help. But most importantly the feeling was good with the car.’’
Hayden Paddon during the Shakedown session for WRC Rally Australia, yesterday. Picture/Greg Henderson Photography.
The rally starts from Coffs Harbour at 9am (NZ time) on Friday and heads about 60km south on the NSW coastline to four stages which are each used twice.
``The first three stages are new and they are some of the best of the rally,’’ said Paddon.
``They have got quite a good gravel covering so these will be the three stages where we really have to make the most of the road sweeping.
``It’s the most gravel we’re going to have all weekend and it’s only going to be there in the morning. We really have to push hard and make sure we get those three stages right.’’
Paddon starts ninth on the road for the opening day of action which provides 125km of high-speed driving and finishes at 7.29pm (NZ time).