Kiwi rally ace Hayden Paddon is using his knowledge and experience to help lift the development of the whole AP4 field in the New Zealand Rally Championship.
The factory Hyundai WRC driver cruised to victory in last month's Rally New Zealand in the Hyundai New Zealand i20 AP4+ car, winning every stage in the process.
It was a much-improved outing for Paddon and the car since his previous event – Rally Coromandel in August. The team withdrew the car from Rally Waitomo to concentrate on making improvements to the car and that paid off according to Paddon.
"The car worked really well. We had no major problems," he told The Herald.
"The team spent a lot of time over those two months. Basically in Coromandel it was driving me rather than me driving the car.
"It felt a lot more comfortable in it and it was much more enjoyable to drive.
"We were able to gather a lot of information from the rally that will help not only us, but that is information we will pass on to the other AP4 teams and hopefully help the whole category."
The introduction of AP4 cars to the field have been a welcome addition over the past couple of years. The newer cars are purpose-built rally cars and the concept has seen new manufacturers get into the sport.
But the down side has been lack of ability to develop the cars and get them performing close to their optimum.
"We are on the back foot in terms of development," Paddon explained. "In New Zealand here it is low budget. Everyone is doing it on events – there are not the big testing budgets or the testing kilometres, so that is why it is taking a little bit longer."
While the improvements made at the back end of this year are a step in the right direction the 30-year-old is confident there is a lot more room to move yet.
"I am probably not the best judge because my expectations are pretty high," Paddon said.
"When you come from the WRC cars you know the capabilities of what a car can do. That is knowledge and feelings I want to incorporate into this car.
"I know it isn't a WRC car but I know there are a lot of areas we can still work on and it is good to know there is a lot of potential in the car."
At least 15 AP4 cars are expected to be involved in next year's New Zealand Rally Championship.