Fresh from his debut WRC podium in Sardinia, Paddon had a strong opening to Rally Poland with a number of top-five stage times throughout the day to finish fifth overall after Friday’s 155km of competitive stages.
Paddon said: “The stages today have been really enjoyable and challenging in equal measure. We struggled initially to pick up a rhythm and the pace notes were not working as well as we’d hoped. Things didn’t really gel as I had expected but we had some better runs this afternoon with a good tyre choice, particularly using the hard tyres on the long stage. It hasn’t been a bad day overall. We are in a close fight for the top five, so we have to keep our focus and continue to gain more confidence on these stages.”
Hyundai Motorsport has had a trouble-free opening day to this weekend’s Rally Poland, round seven of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), with all four of the entered Hyundai i20 WRC cars.
The majority of stages have been re-profiled for this year’s Rally Poland, offering teams and drivers a step into the unknown on some of the Championship’s fastest gravel stages. For Hyundai Motorsport, there are added challenges this weekend as the team fields four cars in a WRC event for the first time.
Thierry Neuville (#7 Hyundai i20 WRC) and Dani Sordo (#8 Hyundai i20 WRC) are competing as usual for the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team. Meanwhile, Hayden Paddon (#20 Hyundai i20 WRC) has been joined by the team’s test driver Kevin Abbring (#10 Hyundai i20 WRC) under the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team banner for the first of four programmed rallies for the Dutchman.
Hyundai Motorsport has adapted well to engineering four cars on a WRC event for the first time, particularly with no lunchtime service. The team has laid good foundations for the rest of the weekend and will hope for more of the same from its four driver crews tomorrow.
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “This is a special rally for our team as we enter four Hyundai i20 WRC cars into a rally for the first time. And what a fast rally it is proving to be! These new stages are offering us some of the fastest, most challenging stages of the season with our crews needing to constantly refine and improve their pace notes. All four of our crews have acquitted themselves very well, and it’s good to see Hayden and Thierry in a close fight for the top five after the first day. Dani and Kevin, too, have had different targets today but it is fantastic to see four cars in our service area. The team has done a commendable job to adapt to having the additional car and it’s a real testament to how much we’ve grown as a team in a short space of time. I hope we can continue in this way tomorrow.”
Saturday’s itinerary will see a loop of four stages in the morning- Mazury 17.70km, Wieliczki 12.87km, Swietajno 21.25km and Paprotki 23.15km – with the first three repeated in the afternoon run before an evening Super Special once again to be held at the Mikolajki Arena. All in all, 129.29km of special stages will greet drivers on the final full day of this weekend’s Rally Poland.
Overall Classification after Day One
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 1:17:42.5
2 A. Mikkelsen / O. Floene (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +2.1
3 J.M Latvala / M. Anttila (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +10.8
4 O. Tanak / R. Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +16.7
5 H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +35.9
6 R. Kubica / M. Szczepaniak (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +37.4
7 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai i20 WRC) +41.3
8 K. Meeke / P. Nagle (Citroën DS3 WRC) +1:07.1
9 D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai i20 WRC) +1:15.0
10 M. Østberg / J. Andersson (Citroën DS3 WRC) +1:15.5
14. K. Abbring / S. Marshall (Hyundai i20 WRC) +2:38.2