Hayden Paddon heads to Mexico’s third round of the FIA World Rally Championship having completed plenty of solid preparation in the preceding weeks.
Paddon and co-driver John Kennard don’t underestimate the challenges of the Rally Guanajuato México, based in the city of Leon 400km north-west of Mexico City, where temperatures and altitude as the rally heads into the nearby mountains can impact the rally cars’ performance.
A two-day test in the heat and dust of southern Spain with Hyundai Motorsport after the snow of Rally Sweden went well. “I felt really comfortable in the car and learnt a lot about the settings,” Paddon says. “I’m hopeful that this will translate at Rally Mexico.”
Two weeks at home in New Zealand – busy with publicity commitments, launching the Hyundai New Zealand Rally Team line-up for the domestic rally season and lots of training in Kiwi summer temperatures – puts Paddon in a good place physically and mentally to get back into competition. “While these two weeks have been busy, it’s been a welcome reset to get our season back on track.”
Of Rally Mexico, one of two WRC events in the Americas, Paddon says: “It’s a challenging rally – the roads are quite slippery on first pass, but it has quite a nice nature with some slow technical parts and some faster parts. With 12 WRC cars in the event, the roads don’t cut up so much. However, there is no room for error with many obstacles lining the edge of the roads.
“It’s warm, but not too warm. Our two-week visit to New Zealand en route to Mexico was actually quite similar temperatures, so it’s been a good way to acclimatise. The altitude has a greater effect on the cars than us, losing up to 20% power.”
This is the third time Paddon and Kennard have competed in Mexico. “I prefer to go back to events with some prior experience – even if it’s only once or twice we have previously done it, as it will be in Mexico. We have some good info from last year that has helped me to prepare.”
Kennard agrees that it’s been good to have time back in New Zealand. “For the last couple of years, I’ve stayed in Scandinavia before heading to Mexico, but this way, I can be out in the Marlborough sunshine, training on my mountain bike in a similar climate. You’re generally a bit closer to the same time zone, albeit almost a day behind, so with that extra day here to acclimatise to summer temps, hopefully we’re all set to go in Mexico.”
Paddon and Kennard will start the first day ninth on the road in the #4 Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, based on their current championship position. Saturday and Sunday will see WRC competitors running in reverse rally classification.
Key facts of Rally Guanajuato México
Dates: 9-12 March 2017
Stages: 19 (393.8 competitive km)
Total distance: 897.68 km
WRC competitors: 12
- The season’s first non-European and gravel event.
- A new Super Special Stage at Mexico City’s Zócalo main square – known for its appearance during the opening scene of the James Bond film Spectre – opens the event on Thursday evening with more than 200,000 fans expected to attend.
- Friday’s itinerary takes the stunning scenery and thin air of the Sierra de Lobos and Sierra de Guanajuato mountains, before descending into the Rally’s famous underground stage through former silver mine tunnels in Guanajuato.
- There are two new stages on Sunday in a largely unchanged route.
Paddon and Hayden Paddon RallySport Global (HPRG) Ltd appreciates the support of their exclusive partners, Hyundai New Zealand, Pak’nSave and Z Energy and associate sponsors Scott Sports and All About Signs Timaru.
Hayden Paddon’s 2017 WRC schedule with Hyundai Motorsport
WRC Round 1: Monte Carlo, 19-22 January
WRC Round 2: Sweden, 9-12 February
WRC Round 3: Mexico, 9-12 March
WRC Round 4: France, 6-9 April
WRC Round 5: Argentina, 27-30 April
WRC Round 6: Portugal, 18-21 May
WRC Round 7: Italy, 8-11 June
WRC Round 8: Poland, 29 June – 2 July
WRC Round 9: Finland, 27-30 July
WRC Round 10: Germany, 17-20 August
WRC Round 11: Spain, 5-8 October
WRC Round 12: Great Britain, 26-29 October
WRC Round 13: Australia, 16-19 November
by Kate Gordon-Smith/Relish Communications