Hayden Paddon praying for dry in Poland
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New Zealand rally star Hayden Paddon is hoping for a little change in luck at this week's WRC Poland and that could start with the rain staying away on Friday's opening leg.
Paddon will start eighth on the road due to his championship standings and that will be a big advantage on the opening pass of Poland's fast and flowing gravel roads should the event remain dry. If it were to be wet, however, the soft surface will cut up and he will find himself with less traction than those in front.
"This year the weather is going to play a big part," the 30-year-old told the Herald.
"We are definitely hoping for the rain to stay away. If it stays dry then we have a nice advantage on Friday that we can hopefully make the most of, a bit like we did in Sardinia.
"It could go one way or the other. Whatever it is, we have to make sure we are best prepared as we can and do the best with the conditions we are given."
Poland should provide Paddon with conditions most to his liking in the championship so far, with stages similar in nature to those he grew up on in New Zealand.
"It is definitely one of the fastest rallies of the year but at the same time soft and sandy," the Hyundai works driver said.
"On the first pass the stages are quite nice. We are flat-out in sixth gear for long periods of time and it is definitely the sort of rally that rewards commitment and bravery.
"On the second pass - because of that soft surface - it does tend to cut up a lot and you almost get like train tracks on the road where you really have to lean on the ruts and have a lot of trust in what the car can do.
"It is almost like two different rallies between the first and second pass."
Paddon is hoping to put another disappointment behind him in a season of struggles. He crashed out of WRC Italy three weeks ago while leading the event. While frustrated at the mistake, he will also take plenty out of the speed he had on the Italian island of Sardinia.
"It is a new rally and a fresh start and this rally is quite different to Sardinia," Paddon explained.
"It is more to my liking so we have forgotten what has happened in the past.
"We have taken some lessons forward but it is a fresh start and we look forward to having a strong result.
"I have never been a big believer in luck and it is fair to say we have been punished pretty severely for various little mistakes this year whether it be with the car or through my driving.
"I'm sure these things will turn around.
"We have certainly felt at the last couple of rallies the tide is starting to turn," he said.
"We are all learning and making small changes.
"Even just a simple change since Sardinia - we have lifted the seat a little bit more to give me a bit more visibility out the front of the car."
WRC Poland is based in the Masurian Lake District - a holiday region in northern Poland.
The event sees drivers compete in 23 special stages for a total of 326km.
The rally begins tomorrow morning with a super special stage in Mikolajki before the drivers get into the rally proper tomorrow.