Hayden Paddon and John Kennard are now focused on day one of WRC Rally Poland after finishing the event’s opening 2.5 km Super Special stage last evening.
Following Thursday evening’s ceremonial start, Paddon and Kennard posted the 13th quickest time. The Mikolajki Arena is a purpose-built stage next to Mikolajki’s service park with a tarmac surface that drivers describe as abrasive, plus the setting sun caused vision issues for some drivers.
Of this stage, Paddon said: “The strategy here was to go slow and save these tyres because we’ll need them later in the rally.”
When asked by World Rally Radio if his success in the previous event in Sardinia aided his confidence, he replied: “A little, I’m a little more confident in the car and relaxed. We had a good rally here in Poland last year, considering it was only our second rally with Hyundai.”
During Thursday pre-event activities for WRC Poland, Hayden Paddon and John Kennard made four runs through the 3.70km gravel shakedown stage, setting the 11th fastest time. The Kiwis were focused on testing a few settings for their Hyundai i20 WRC. Paddon said: “We tried some different settings which did and didn’t work but feeling good for the rally.”
Of the route ahead, Paddon said: “The roads here in Poland are definitely the fastest of the championship and we LOVE THEM – a lot of similarities to the fast/cresty roads in the Mackenzie District where I grew up in NZ. Of the 2086 corners we noted for this rally, 1125 are flat!!!”
The rally proper gets underway at 8am Friday morning, where competitors must tackle all eight of the day’s stages with no midday service. Paddon and Kennard start 9th on the road.