Kiwi rally contender comes to grips with driving on sealed surfaces.

This weekend's Tour of Corsica is another chance for the New Zealand rallying pair of Hayden Paddon and co-driver John Kennard to improve their performance on tarmac.

The Kiwi pair is handily placed in third on the points table heading in to the second of three consecutive tarmac rallies in 2016. They are 16 points behind Andreas Mikkelsen and a further 59 behind championship leader Sebastien Ogier.

While not his favourite surface by any means, Paddon has matured as a tarmac driver this year to the stage that he finished a solid fifth last time out in Germany.

To have any chance of challenging for the world title next year, Paddon is aware that his continuing development as a tarmac driver is a key component in the process.


"I don't look forward to the tarmac rallies as much as I do the gravel rallies. I know I have to improve and the only real way to do that is to do more of them and get more kilometres under my belt," said Paddon from Corsica.

"I have to be a bit patient in the meantime [avoid crashes]. It's certainly coming along and we've got a better understanding of tarmac, which is the key thing.

"I know how to drive fast on tarmac, and how to drive slow on it. It's just a matter of putting it all together in the heat of the moment.

"Germany wasn't so good and it [improvement] didn't show through so well, but I know during testing and comparing data with our team-mates that we are there and it's just a matter of putting it all together on a rally."

It is Paddon and Kennard's second visit to the French venue, having raced there in 2015 during a rain-affected rally where they finished in a creditable fifth.

As far as tarmac rallying goes, the Kiwi doesn't mind the Corsican event too much as it's more of a traditional hard surface-based rally with wider, more flowing roads, albeit with plenty of corners.

The added advantage over other tarmac rallies is the road surface, grip levels and conditions which are generally much the same through all the stages. It's similar to a racetrack, in many ways.

According to co-driver Kennard, the huge number of corners means the average speed is very low, just over 90kmh, compared with 125kmh in Finland.

It also means the info coming from the notes is quite relentless.

The rally has the least amount of stages on the international calendar at 10, but is the second longest race behind Mexico with 39km of competitive racing. This year the co-drivers have had their work cut out, as 70 per cent of the rally is new and 20 per cent longer than last year.

"From Germany we have changed the set-up of the car quite a lot to suit me. We had a similar set-up before to my team-mates that I didn't really like and have made the car more to my liking rather than a pure tarmac car," Paddon said.

"There are a lot of long new stages here this year. A Corsica stage is still a Corsica stage no matter where it is.

"It's called the Rally of 10,000 Corners for a reason as it's very twisty and relentless with corner after corner so they all look very similar.

"Our plan, as always, is to go as quick as we can and when you put the helmet on, you're not going into a stage thinking 'I'll take it a bit easy' - that's when mistakes happen.

"You drive to the car set-up an,d if it's dry, I'll be okay as the grip level is quite high," Paddon added.

"When it's wet, that's when I struggle on tarmac as I've done very little wet tarmac rallying. You just have to let the conditions play into your hands and do the best job you can on the day.

"Getting into the top five in any rally is hard to do, so if we can repeat how we went last year that would be pretty good," he said.

After 10 rounds

• Sebastien Ogier 169

• Andreas Mikkelsen 110

• Hayden Paddon 94

• Thierry Neuville 94

• Jari Matti Latvala 89

• Dani Sordo 86

• Mads Ostberg 78

• Ott Tanak 52


Kiwi single seater racer Mitch Evans is at the penultimate round of the 2016 GP championship at Sepang International Circuit, Malaysia. Evans sits 10th in the series and, with a good result over the weekend, could jump as high as sixth. Series leader Pierre Gasly has been the form driver of late and holds a 10-point buffer.

Leitch gets test run

Former Toyota Racing Series contestant Brendon Leitch is off to the US for two days of testing next weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the Newman Wachs Racing team. The 20-year-old will test in a USF2000 series car and has been promised four 40-minute sessions over the two days.

Supercars quit Sydney

Sydney Olympic Park will wave goodbye to the Supercars, December 4, as the category season finale is moving to Newcastle for the five years starting in 2017. The Coates Hire Newcastle 500 will be the first Supercars race ever held in Newcastle and will take in some of the city's best landmarks including Nobby's Beach and Fort Scratchley.

Karters go west

An 11-strong team of Kiwi karters will be in Australia this weekend contesting the Grand Final round of this year's Rotax Pro Tour at Dubbo, New South Wales. It is one of the biggest groups to cross the Tasman for an Australian kart meeting and is made up of a mix of Pro Tour regulars and top karters.

Atlanta race for Kiwis

Two Kiwis are in action at the final round of the American IMSA sportscar championship this weekend at Road Course Atlanta, Georgia. Earl Bamber will join Frédéric Makowiecki and Michael Christensen in a Porsche 911 RSR, while Scott Dixon teams up with Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook in a Ford GT for the Petit Le Mans race.

Under the hood

In a bit of good news for old school muscle car fans, the Wellington MG Car Club's November 31 classic race meeting will feature the new Historic Muscle Car group. Most of the cars racing in the current category are "silhouettes", rather than real classics - old on the outside, but very modern underneath. The historic group will have the cars modified much as they were when competing in the 1960s, and will be more like the saloons that race at international events such as the Goodwood Revival and the Le Mans Classic.