Motorsport: Corsica another step in Paddon's tarmac development

By Dale Budge

Hayden Paddon ]during the Shakedown of the WRC Germany. Photo / Getty Images
Hayden Paddon ]during the Shakedown of the WRC Germany. Photo / Getty Images

Kiwi rally driver Hayden Paddon is hoping some hard work will pay off at this week's Rally France in Corsica.

The Hyundai works driver has limited experience on tarmac and finds himself at a distinct disadvantage compared to many of his rivals who have grown up driving on that surface.

While he sits in third place in the championship standings Paddon will be using this event as another step to improving his ability on sealed surfaces.

"We do have to use it as an opportunity to learn," the 29-year-old tells herald.co.nz. "It is a little bit premature to think we can be competitive on tarmac yet. We only need to look at the numbers - of the 120 rallies I've done only nine or 10 have been tarmac whereas the guys we are competing with have done 60 or 70 and they grew up on them.

"We have to learn and adjust and get the confidence of the grip levels and the feel of the car."

The world championship is in the midst of a run of tarmac events - although the most recent round in China was canceled. Paddon had a break back in New Zealand but has also been working on trying to get more familiar with the nuances of driving fast on tarmac.

"We spent a bit of time on race tracks in GT cars," he says. "People look at it on television and think it looks easier because the cars are just driving around the corner nice and straight.

The difficult thing for me is adjusting to the grip. You can go from having 100 percent grip to none within the blink of an eye. Having complete faith that the car is going to have grip is important. That can be difficult when you have pollution or mud dragged onto the stage.

"It is also technique - from throttle application to brake application to steering input it is all a lot smoother and a lot more precise."

Paddon has his eyes firmly set on becoming world champion in the next couple of years and he knows he will have to improve his ability on tarmac if that is going to become a reality.

"To fight for the world championship I don't think we have to be winning tarmac rallies but we need to be in the position where we are fighting for podiums to try and string together a championship.

"That is where we need to be next year - getting podiums."

- NZ Herald

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