Name: Hayden Paddon
Motorsport class: WRC
Current Race/Rally Car: Unknown
Website : www.haydenpaddon.com
At what age were you when you first got involved in motorsport?
I was brought up around rallying with Dad driving for many years. I started driving myself in go-karts at 6, then as soon as I got my motorsport licence at 12, I started driving cars. First rally at 15 with the learner plates on the car.
Who was your biggest influence in rallying when growing up?
Dad has obviously been a massive part but I always looked up to Colin McRae. He was my idol – 110% give-it-everything attitude whether hes winning or not. ‘He was obviously spectacular as well and was a true, genuine person.
What was your first road car?
Toyota Corolla DX wagaon
What was your very first rally car?
Mini Leyland 1982 – first rally was in Dads Toyota Corolla AE100
Having driven numerous competition cars, which has been the most memorable and why?
Test driving the WRC car was certainly special as it was a fully-blown engineered piece of machinery. However, the Skoda S2000 car that we drove last year was also very special as it was such a dream to drive. In terms of an out-of-the-ordinary and hair-raising car to drive, that would have to be Steve Murphys Cordia V8 that I was lucky enough to drive at Ashley Forest a couple of years ago – now that’s a car!
What is the ultimate special stage / rally for you?
Whangarei rally has always been my favorite, the best roads in the world. In terms of a best stage outside of that rally – it would have to be some of the famous stages in Finland. The jumps, the speed and the atmosphere is incredible.
What is your career highlight to date?
Winning the 2011 Production World Title was an accumulation of a lot of hard work and stress, but very rewarding. We had some good moments last year, but overall not such a good year.
With a fast-paced career driving, what do you like to do to relax?
Rallying as been my life ever since I can remember and to be perfectly honest, I have not been a huge fan of relaxing. I am in a fortunate position where we have one chance to make it to the top so there is no time to relax. Everything is 100% towards making it to the top.
What’s one thing that would surprise most people to know? (are you an aspiring artist / musician etc?)
I don’t really have any hidden talents as such.
What vehicle format would you recommend for young drivers entering motorsport? Front wheel drive, rear wheel drive or 4 wheel drive?
It depends on how serious they want to take it. If its someone that wants to simply go have a skid and have some giggles’, then you can’t go past RWD and good sideways fun. For someone that has ambitions to win their class, rally, NZ championship etc, then FWD is a great format to learn the basics of corner speed and car balance which then transfers well into 4WD. You do see the mistake often of new/young drivers going straight into 4WD. This is not a good idea as the car tends to drive the driver more than the other way around, where at least in a 2WD less powerful car you first learn the basics, learn how to get the most out of a car and what your own limits are.
What advice could you give an up-and-coming driver looking for sponsorship?
Sponsorship is so difficult now, so the biggest advice I could give is be patient. If you get some people that decline, don’t get disheartened and give up – keep trying. But nothing beats a contact or an introduction rather than cold calling, so if you have an uncle who’s friends with someone who’s friends with the CEO of X company, then explore that avenue. And supply them value for their money, not just a sticker on the car. Keep them upated, take them for rides, go to their staff/business functions etc.
Having driven in the Otago Classic Rally last year what are your thoughts on driving a BDA escort?
Absoutely magic car! I have not driven many RWD cars before and I was amazed at how balanced and forgiving the car was. We had no testing before that rally, so basically the first time I drove it was on Stage 1. So I know if we get another opportunity we can go much faster – but it was a very enjoyable weekend.
In your opinion who was the best rally driver of all time and why?
There’s no going past Sebastion Loeb. Whether he has the best car or not, he still has to drive it, and to shatter all the records in the book like he has is unthinkable. He is a perfect role model and goes to show that smooth is fast.
If you could design the perfect formula for a rally car what would it be?
Good question and hard to briefly answer. There would have to be an internationally recognised formula involved so that there was a path for the young up-and-comers to follow, but I think shorter format events will attract more spectators (just look at Cricket 20/20, Rugby Sevens etc) as the general lifestyle of people is getting busier and busier. I think it is a must to have a super special stage in each rally, but still include the endurance aspects of rallying such as night stages and long stages.
Other than professional rally driving, what other work are you involved in?
That is basically it for me – when not competing I spend a lot of time in the gym, in the workshop fixing our Mitsubishi Evo9 that we have, working with our sponsors and the continued neverending search for funding.
Thank you very much Hayden for agreeing to be featured. We know how busy your schedule is, and really appreciate the fact you took some time out to speak to us. I’m sure many of our followers will be very interested to read your answers. We wish you all the best for 2013 and hope you’re able to secure the funding to get back to the FIA World Rally Championship as soon as possible.
The website is keeping me really busy this year with all the photos, and new sections we’re planning etc, so my good friend Danny James has come on board to help in the background organising our “Meet the Driver” features, so a very big thank you to Danny for an awesome start to this section with two great drivers featured so far and more to come. I’d also like to thank Neil from www.NZSnaps.com for letting us use his cool Escort images.