Well another year is done and dusted and what a year it has been. From our wins in Argentina and Otago to the lows of the sport in Portugal and Sardinia. It’s fair to say that it has been somewhat of a rollercoaster season, but by all means not as bad as it may seems.
Of course our worse critic is myself, which sometimes I make all too clear. But upon reflection when I stand back and look at our results and performances this year, it has been a marked improvement from last year. In fact every rally (except for Germany) has been an improvement of speed from last year, and it is only our win early in the year that made things maybe not look as good as they are.
The important thing is that we keep progressing and not standing still – and we continue to keep finding ways to find another tenth of a second or two. That’s all that is involved now days, and the gap between the front and being outside the top 5 is minimal.
It’s great now spending some time in NZ and I must say the last few weeks have been incredibly busy with PR commitments, some secret projects we are working on (details released next year) and of course the Hyundai Young Driver Shootout. Now for 2 weeks over Xmas however, we will slow down a little and recharge the batteries for an even busier 2017.
The Hyundai Young Driver Shootout was an amazing experience and an honor to meet so many young, talented and motivated drivers. It was extremely hard being a judge along with 4 others, as the caliber of all drivers meant they were all worthy winners. In the end we selected Job Quantock, a 22 year old Canterbury driver as the winner who showed huge potential – especially considering his lack of experience. His prize is to be part of our NZ Rally Team, including driving 2 rounds of the NZRC with our AP4+ car. In the meantime we will work with him as much as we can to help bring him up to speed. It will be an exciting project.
We also recently opened up applications to our new Paddon Rally Foundation where competitors of all ages and levels can apply for financial support. The aim of the foundation is to help grow the sport here in NZ from grass roots to national level. Application forms and details can be found on our website, www.haydenpaddon.com.
The new season is looking very exciting with the new cars and initial impressions from testing is that they are faster and a little easier to drive (with the active center diff) but also very exciting for drivers and spectators. With the introductions of more manufacturers and drivers changing teams, next season promises to be one of the most exciting ever. And with so many unknowns of what team has the best car and reliability etc, there could be a window of opportunity. That’s why now during the off season we are working hard to refine our systems and be as prepared as we can be both physically and mentally to fight.
A huge thanks to everyone that has been involved helping with many things we have been doing in NZ, including all our Paddon Rallysport team members, volunteers who have helped at the ride days and young driver shootout and of course the shootout judges. We simply could not do it all without you!
I hope you all have a great Xmas and New Year, and spend some quality time with family/friends. Remember to stay safe and look forward to seeing some of you at events next year.
Monte is only 1 month away, so no time to rest too much!