Pad­don’s fly­ing end to de­but sea­son

Motor Equipment News - - NEWS -

Kiwi Hay­den Pad­don helped round off a fan­tas­tic de­but year for the Hyundai World Rally Cham­pi­onship team by fin­ish­ing 10th over­all in the iconic Wales Rally GB (for­merly known as the RAC Rally), last event of the 2014 sea­son.

The Hyundai Shell World rally team closed the sea­son with a three-car fin­ish in Bri­tain, with team leader Thierry Neuville con­sol­i­dat­ing his a hard-fought fourth po­si­tion over­all by tak­ing sec­ond place and an ex­tra two points on the Power Stage.

Pad­don and his New Zealand co­driver John Ken­nard came in a solid 10th over­all, and Fin­land’s Juho Hän­ni­nen and Tomi Tuomi­nen were 30th.

Pad­don has ended the sea­son 14th over­all in the WRC driver’s stand­ings.

And it seems Pad­don will def­i­nitely be in with a WRC drive for next year, com­pet­ing in all nine gravel road events.

“We’ll def­i­nitely be in the world cham­pi­onship next year in a World Rally Car, but there are a lot of de­tails to be sorted,” he told wrc.com.

The fi­nal day of Wales Rally GB was par­tic­u­larly tough, with driv­ers tack­ling six spe­cial stages, a loop of three stages re­peated in re­verse or­der (Brenig-10.81km, Al­wen10.04km, Kin­mel Park 2.21km) with Brenig act­ing as the Power Stage at lunch time.

The 46.12km of Sun­day stages take the event’s to­tal to 305km, of­fer­ing the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team the chance to pick up more valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence with its al­ways-evolv­ing Hyundai i20 WRC car. Con­di­tions have been among the most chal­leng­ing of the sea­son with the muddy, slip­pery stages giv­ing driv­ers a real test of their tal­ent.

Bel­gium’s Thierry Neuville (co-driver Ni­co­las Gil­soul) had been in­volved in a close bat­tle for fourth place for much of the rally, and this was even­tu­ally ce­mented after Kris Meeke suf­fered punc­tures on the fi­nal morn­ing.

Hay­den Pad­don com­pleted his sixth WRC event with the team with a fight­ing fin­ish as he chased down a top 10 re­sult, in the end just 5.2 seconds from ninth. The Kiwi crew h sought to make gains through­out the three-day event, im­prov­ing their con­fi­dence in the no.20 car, and adding more in­for­ma­tion to the team’s wealth of data from this de­but sea­son.

Pad­don com­mented on the fi­nal day: “There’s no hid­ing from the fact it’s been a hard week­end. This rally has been com­pletely dif­fer­ent to the other five we’ve con­tested this year so we’ve had to learn a lot and adapt.

“Fri­day was tough, but we have made im­prove­ments stage by stage and day by day.

“To­day has been a short day but it has been a good one, show­ing the de­vel­op­ments we’ve made over the three days. Our ob­jec­tive in all ral­lies this year has been to learn, to gain ex­pe­ri­ence and Wales Rally GB has been no dif­fer­ent. With that in mind, I think we’ve ac­com­plished a lot is a nice way for the team to close the first sea­son in WRC.”

Each of the 13 rounds on this year’s com­pet­i­tive WRC cal­en­dar have of­fered the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team a stern test in its de­but sea­son on the global rally stage, but the Alzenau-based squad has risen to the chal­lenge.

De­spite it be­ing a learn­ing year, the team has made a pos­i­tive im­pres­sion on the se­ries with a mem­o­rable onetwo in Ral­lye Deutsch­land one of the high­lights of the year.

The team has scored podi­ums in three events – Mex­ico, Poland and Ger­many – as well as tak­ing 12 stage wins along the way, ex­ceed­ing the mod­est tar­gets set by the team for its first year in the Cham­pi­onship.

Team Prin­ci­pal Michel Nan­dan said: “We have met our tar­gets of a three car fin­ish, and worked very hard to make im­prove­ments to the Hyundai i20 WRC cars over the week­end.

“Th­ese con­di­tions are un­like any we have faced dur­ing the sea­son so it is a use­ful ad­di­tion to our learn­ing curve. As the fi­nal rally of 2014, we have brought our learn­ing sea­son to a suc­cess­ful con­clu­sion. I am per­son­ally very proud of ev­ery­thing our young team has achieved this year. “From the de­but at Monte Carlo to our one-two in Ger­many and this week­end in Wales, we have made a lot of progress, with many high­lights.

“In some re­gards, we have ex­ceeded our tar­gets but most im­por­tantly we have built up a huge bank of ex­pe­ri­ence, in­for­ma­tion and knowl­edge which will be cru­cial to us as we pre­pare our sec­ond sea­son.

“We will sit down and re­flect on this com­plete sea­son but the team and driv­ers have per­formed fan­tas­ti­cally well all year and I think we can all be very happy with what we’ve ac­com­plished in such a short space of time.”

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