Having driven steadily and sensibly in the opening three Saturday stages at Rally Italia Sardegna, Hayden Paddon and John Kennard had to stop part-way through the final stage to avoid further damage to their misfiring engine.
On their debut event with Hyundai Motorsport in the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship, Paddon and Kennard are focused on learning all they can about competing in the Hyundai i20 WRC for the first time while also gaining valuable knowledge about the slow, rocky roads of Sardinia which they’re contesting for the first time.
Having set a top ten time on his first run through the long 59.70km Monte Lerno (SS11), Paddon shared his thoughts about the morning’s action, saying: “It’s been an okay morning. It’s still challenging out there as we’re obviously running further up the start order today so it’s a bit slipperier. We’re trying to improve the car and my driving. In terms of the car, we’ve made some small changes with the turn-in which have helped and we’re making some more setup changes now [lunchtime service] to make the car softer to try and get some more grip.
“The pace notes still are not as good as I’d like. Writing notes for the first time on an event is really important, and unfortunately they’re very average and inconsistent which makes it really difficult to commit when you’re driving. We know there’s a lot of room for improvement so we’ll try and improve the notes as we repeat these two stages this afternoon.”
The repeated run through the 19.27km Monte Olia stage saw Paddon improve his stage time, set a second top ten time and improve his overall standing to eighth.
Then the live text feed from WRC.com tells the story of his second run through Monte Lerno.
Sat 18:21 – SS13: Paddon stopped -sounds like bad news for the Kiwi. The Hyundai driver has stopped after 10.1kms
Sat 18:35 – SS13: Engine for Paddon – Hyundai reports that Paddon’s problem has been caused by an engine misfire. The car is running on three cylinders and while he has moved a short distance since he initially stopped, he is now parked again.
Sat 18:50 – SS13: Paddon going again – Hyundai’s favourite Kiwi is on the move again, although he has been parked for about 28 minutes.
Sat 19:23 – SS13: Paddon out – Hyundai has told the Kiwi to stop so as not to damage the i20’s engine any further. They will examine the unit when it returns to the service park.
Official stage times show Paddon was allocated a time of the leader’s time plus ten minutes, and the team is confident of getting Paddon and Kennard back into the event under Rally 2 regulations for Sunday’s final 46.84 kilometres broken into four stages.
When he returned to the service park, Paddon summarised the day: “This rally was always about learning and it has been a valuable day for us in that regard. We had an ok morning but it was a bit slippery as a result of our starting position. We just concentrated on making improvements to the car and improving my own driving on these tough stages today. Compared to yesterday, we made some changes to improve turn-in but our pace notes didn’t really give us the confidence we needed. We made a few changes at lunchtime service and it was a definite improvement but unfortunately we couldn’t complete the final stage due to an engine misfire after the water splash which the team has to examine. Hopefully, we can get back out there tomorrow and conclude our learning from this event.”
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “Today has been largely a positive day for us. I always maintain that we were competing this year to learn and to improve; today shows just how important that approach is. It is obviously a shame that Hayden had to stop in the final stage because, like Thierry [Neuville], we had made some good improvements to the Hyundai i20 WRC cars during the day. After going through the water splash, he reported a misfire and we felt it was safer to stop the car in the stage rather than risk the engine further so we can restart under Rally 2 tomorrow. We will be investigating everything closely this evening. Both cars were hindered by their starting positions and had to cope with some tough conditions but Thierry and Hayden approached the day intelligently. Thierry had a reasonable morning loop and the changes we made over lunch gave him more confidence, which resulted in a good top three result at Monte Lerno. We will work hard tonight to see if we can begin tomorrow with both cars and continue development of the car for this rally and ahead of Rally Poland.”
The team has three hours to work on Paddon’s car before the Kiwi rally star from Geraldine will know whether he can compete on Sunday.
Paddon and the HPRG team appreciates the support of their exclusive partners VINZ New Zealand, PlaceMakers and Pak n’ Save along with associate support from Z Energy, Hyundai New Zealand, Scott Sports and New Balance.