WRC driver Hayden Paddon writes heading to Rally Portugal this weekend…..
Well it seems it hasn’t been long since Argentina, but its now rally week again – Rally Portugal. This is an event that is unchanged from last year, meaning we have good experience and knowledge of what to expect. Also with my engineer Rui and 12 others in the team being Portuguese, it’s an event close to a lot of people’s heart, which we would like to represent them well for.
Of course since Rally Argentina, things have been crazy busy with media and PR commitments, while of course competing at home with Rally Whangarei. But the last 2 weeks have also been busy with preparations – studying onboard footage and refining the pacenotes.
After the high of Argentina the confidence is obviously high but at the same time we are keeping our feet on the ground and sticking to our plan and goals from the start of the season. We still have a lot of work and development to do to be challenging more regularly at the front and we have to keep using this year to put the building blocks in place to ultimately in the future fight for the championship.
Portugal is a chance to keep building towards that. Its obviously great to now be 2nd in the world championship which means this week we will be second on the road – and while that is not such an optimum position to be, we are treating it as an opportunity to try and stay competitive as possible against Seb Ogier ahead of us on the road – in equal conditions.
Being that 90% of the stages are the same as last year, it means that we can all do a lot more study of the stages than normal and because of this we have made a lot of changes to the notes prior to the event. We are expecting the speed to be a lot higher this year but there are some unknowns with the road conditions with the extreme amount of rain they have had here over the winter. Perfect conditions are expected all this week for the rally, but the higher than normal rainfall of recent means the roads could be a lot softer than normal and potentially cut up to become very rough on the second pass.
We had a good 2 day test last week in Portugal and despite the conditions being somewhat wet and not so representative of what we will find on the rally, it was still good to gather information from. We have further developed two small areas on the car and while we are not looking for big gains – every little bit will help.
You may have seen on social media recently that we have been continuing to push for the return of Rally New Zealand more, which is gaining traction. The latest video that we have released was put together by Flashworks Media from Rally Whangarei, showcasing the spectacular scenery and passion behind NZ rallying. You can check out the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZAJHWfty-0
Throughout the rally this week you can follow all our progress via the quick links on our website www.haydenpaddon.com.
Also in case you are not aware, our new online merchandise store (which can ship worldwide) is full of stock with many different ranges of clothing and sizes. You can check it out at www.haydenpaddonshop.com.
Thanks for all your continued support and we will be pushing for another good result in Portugal.