GROUP RAL­LY­ING EDITOR “A driv­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion makes sense”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - Red Kite re­port, p20 Pho­tos: mck­lein-im­age­

Hay­den Paddon has ruled him­self out of a pos­si­ble win on the next two rounds of the World Rally Cham­pi­onship.

Hyundai’s high-fly­ing Kiwi says his tar­get for this sea­son re­mains the Euro­pean gravel ral­lies. Paddon was test­ing the i20 WRC in Spain last week­end, fi­nal­is­ing his set-up for next week’s Rally Mex­ico and try­ing to find more con­fi­dence from the front of the car.

“The test went well,” he said. “We have found a good set-up [for Mex­ico]. I needed to work on the front axle, to find the set­tings which would give me more con­fi­dence and pre­ci­sion with the car.”

Paddon ad­mit­ted his se­cond place in Swe­den ear­lier this month has fur­ther de­vel­oped his con­fi­dence.

“I was re­ally pleased with what we did in Swe­den,” he said. “Last year, I got de­mor­alised and lost more time, but this time I was able to press the re­set but­ton and not get down in the dumps about things – that helped me men­tally.

“For me, the fo­cus is still on Euro­pean gravel ral­lies. In the next two events, I want to progress what we have been do­ing and then make sure when it comes to Por­tu­gal we’re fight­ing at the front.”

Hyundai team prin­ci­pal Michel Nan­dan said Paddon’s pace on his first time in the New Gen­er­a­tion i20 came as no sur­prise, even though his team-mates have strug­gled.

Nan­dan said: “He was one of the driv­ers who was im­me­di­ately feel­ing con­fi­dent and com­fort­able in the new car. With the other two [driv­ers, Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo], we had to work a bit more with the car. What he wants is to have the front of the car which he can trust and he feels safe. We are work­ing on that with a bit of com­pro­mise in ev­ery­thing, but mainly the diff and damper set­tings. We have done that at the test in Spain and it’s helped him.”

Paddon is short on ex­pe­ri­ence of the Amer­i­cas; last year was his first ap­pear­ance in Mex­ico and his se­cond in Ar­gentina.

Paddon is look­ing for front-end im­prove­ments Paddon wowed in Swe­den

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