Star Kiwi rally driver Hayden Paddon has continued to work on his tarmac rally driving skills in 2017 and heads to this week’s Rallye Deutschland seeking to be competitive and collect points for his team, Hyundai Motorsport.
In recent months, Paddon and co-driver Seb Marshall have contested two tarmac non-World Rally Championship rallies in the Hyundai New Generation i20 R5 as part of building their experience on the surface with which Paddon is least familiar.
“It has been great to do two tarmac events with the R5 this year as the team helps me to build my experience on tarmac,” Paddon says. “The priority was simply to get more miles so I can adjust to the grip levels which we were able to do. It’s certainly more difficult for me on tarmac to judge that fine line between under and over driving, but it will come with time.
“We are always progressing on tarmac but, of course, nothing stands still in this sport – everyone else is also progressing. We have to be realistic though – the long-term goal is not necessarily to be the fastest tarmac driver – it’s about being competitive and collecting strong points. You will not win a 13-round championship based on three tarmac rallies, but it is important you don’t surrender too many points.”
For Rallye Deutschland – regarded as the trickiest and most technical of the WRC tarmac rallies – Paddon wants to get as many competitive kilometres as possible under the Michelin tyres of his Hyundai i20 WRC coupe. “It’s my fifth time here and we want to finish the rally. It’s clear that my team-mates Thierry [Neuville] and Dani [Sordo] will be challenging for the win, so we must play the team role and ensure we pick up some manufacturer points in case one of them runs into trouble.”
Paddon says the 17-20 August rally is unique.
“It’s almost three rallies in one. Narrow vineyard stages on Friday, bumpy, grip-changing Baumholder military roads on Saturday and fast country roads on Sunday. It’s not a normal tarmac event and you have to keep adapting. I have always enjoyed the technical vineyard stages.
“Another factor is that weather always plays a part in this rally which, of course, then makes tyre choices difficult.”
Among the preparation for this event, Paddon participated in a one-day test with the team on a relatively non-technical stage. “We have not done any of the prior tarmac development work or tests, so we adapted to the setups already developed by our team-mates which seemed to work well.”
Marshall is also competing for the fifth time in Germany, the event on which he made his WRC debut back in 2008.
“Rallye Deutschland is incomparable on the WRC circuit,” says the Brit. “There’s a different style and rhythm to each day of action; the Mosel vineyards, Baumholder Military Range and Saarland farmland stages. The weather can be very varied and unpredictable in this region so it's important to liaise well with our safety crew to get the latest road condition information. We'll be in good hands with some familiar faces in Brendan Reeves and John Kennard fulfilling this role for us.”
Paddon and Marshall compete in the #4 Hyundai i20 coupe world rally car, while Hyundai Motorsport team-mates Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul, and Dani Sordo and Mark Marti are in the #5 and #6 Hyundais respectively.
Key facts of Rallye Deutschland
Dates: 17-20 August 2017
Stages: 21 (311.22 competitive km)
Total distance: 1220.31km
WRC competitors: 15
- Bostalsee replaces historic Trier as the rally base, and is around two hours from the team’s Alzenau base, making Rallye Deutschland a home event for Hyundai Motorsport.
- Saarbrücken, south of the new Bostalsee service park, hosts Thursday evening’s start, immediately followed by a spectacular city centre circuit stage.
- Friday features two repeated vineyard tests, narrow and littered with hairpin bends, overlooking the Mosel river. They are sandwiched by three passes of a new super special stage at Wadern-Weiskirchen.
- Saturday again features the challenging Baumholder military roads for the Panzerplatte tests.
- Sunday’s route blends fast country roads near the border with France and Luxembourg and those close to Bostalsee.
Paddon and Hayden Paddon RallySport Global (HPRG) Ltd appreciate the support of their exclusive partners, Hyundai New Zealand, Pak’nSave and Z Energy, and associate sponsors Scott Sports and All About Signs Timaru.