Hayden Paddon and co-driver John Kennard have completed Rallye Monte-Carlo in a positive frame of mind, having done all they could to gain experience of the iconic rally’s notoriously tricky stages.
The Kiwis successfully completed Sunday’s final three special stages of the opening round of the 2016 FIA World Rally Championship with two encouraging stage times – sixth quickest and fifth quickest – to finish 25th overall, a steady result given Paddon and Kennard had fallen to an unfamiliar 76th place after being forced to retire on Friday morning.
“A very trying weekend, but also a positive, character-building weekend for me,” Paddon said on Sunday afternoon (European time) after overcoming one last challenge in the form of a broken driveshaft on the final stage to make it to the finish.
“Some of the stages were harder than others, but I have thoroughly enjoyed tackling Monte’s iconic stages and we were able to have some fun along the way. Of course coming here, we expected this to be our toughest rally for the year and it’s certainly lived up to that expectation.
“At the same time, there are a lot of positives to take away from the weekend. We learnt a lot about the surfaces, the conditions, the tyre choices – all these things you really need experience of on this sort of rally to be successful here. We’ll take that knowledge forward for when we come back in 12 months’ time.”
The pair started strongly on Thursday with their times on the two night stages – seventh and fourth quickest respectively – earning them fifth overall on the leader-board overnight. The icy mountain roads bit back on Friday morning meaning the Kiwis had to retire and miss the chance of experiencing the full day’s itinerary.
Of Friday’s low speed incident, Paddon said: “The morning didn’t go at all how we planned. We just got caught out by a patch of ice that pitched the rear of the car into a tree, pulling off the rear-left wheel. There was no way we could continue so we had little choice but to retire. We knew it would be a rally of learning but we weren’t expecting our first full day to be over so soon. That’s the nature of this rally, I guess.”
Re-joining on Saturday morning under Rally 2 regulations, Paddon and Kennard enjoyed a series of positives including seventh fastest, fifth fastest and even a second fastest stage time.
Of Saturday’s five special stages, Paddon said: “This morning we were determined to start fresh and put yesterday behind us, but it was an equally tough start. Obviously we’re here to learn as much as we can and take as much as we can from the experience. The first stage (SS9) was difficult with all the patchy ice, a lot more than we expected. Then SS10 in the snow, we spent more time going backwards than actually going forwards. I don’t think I’ve ever spun so many times in one stage, but that’s part of our learning process. We’ve had a couple of top five times and one stage when we were second fastest – it was nice to be part of the team’s first 1-2-3 in stage in SS12 and I had a lot of fun both in that stage and SS13.”
Meanwhile Paddon’s Hyundai Motorsport team-mates made a strong start to the 2016 WRC season with the new generation Hyundai i20 WRC car. Thierry Neuville overcame numerous challenges to secure third place and deliver a podium finish on debut with the new car, while Dani Sordo worked with the team’s engineers to improve the car throughout the rally, moving into sixth place on the final day. The double top-six finish sees Hyundai Motorsport jointly lead the WRC manufacturers’ championship with Volkswagen Motorsport on 25 points apiece.
Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “We are all delighted to see the new generation i20 WRC finish on the podium here in Monte-Carlo. It’s an important result for the entire team and it is the culmination of a lot of work from our colleagues in Alzenau. Thierry has had a competitive and consistent weekend, and it’s really fantastic to see him back where he belongs – on the podium. Dani made big improvements over the weekend and he had a positive morning, including scoring power stage points. Hayden did everything that was expected from him – and he can now tick Monte-Carlo off his list with valuable experience gained. We can’t rest on our laurels because there is much still to do. We will run three new generation cars in Sweden and we are determined to continue improving. For now, though, we’ll savour a hard-fought and well-earned podium.”
Looking ahead to his next event, the 11-14 February running of Rally Sweden where he will also have the new generation Hyundai i20 WRC car which his team-mates debuted in Monte-Carlo, Paddon said: “Now it’s time to press the reset button. Our season starts with Rally Sweden and obviously with the new car we’re very excited. We have high hopes for the rest of the year going on to events that we know and we enjoy.
“It was also great to see the new car on the podium on its debut with the team. It’s a great result for all the hard work that’s gone into it by so many people. So a lot of positives to look forward to and bring on Rally Sweden.”
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.
Results of 2016 World Rally Championship, Round 1, Monte-Carlo
Overall Final Classification
1. S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) 3:49:53.1
2. A. Mikkelsen / A. Jaeger (Volkswagen Polo R WRC) +1:54.5
3. T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +3:17.9
4. M. Østberg / O. Floene (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +4:47.7
5. S. Lefebvre / G. Moreau (Citroën DS3 WRC) +7:35.6
6. D. Sordo / M. Martí (Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC) +10:35.5
7. O. Tanak / R. Molder (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) +11:39.9
8. E. Evans / C. Parry (Ford Fiesta R5) +18:30.8
9. E. Lappi / J. Ferm (Škoda Fabia R5) +20:41.0
10. A. Kremer / P. Winklhofer (Škoda Fabia R5) +20:43.9
25. H. Paddon / J. Kennard (Hyundai i20 WRC) +47:05.7
2016 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings
S. Ogier 28 points / A. Mikkelsen 19 / T. Neuville 15 / M. Østberg 12 / S. Lefebvre 10 / D. Sordo 10 / O. Tanak 6 / E. Evans 4 / E. Lappi 2 / A. Kremer 1
2016 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings
Volkswagen Motorsport 25 points / Hyundai Motorsport 25 / Volkswagen Motorsport II 18 / M-Sport World Rally Team 12 / DMACK World Rally Team 8 / Hyundai Motorsport N 6
All results remain subject to official FIA confirmation.
Hayden Paddon’s 2016 WRC schedule with Hyundai Motorsport
WRC Round 1: Monte Carlo, 21-24 January
WRC Round 2: Sweden, 11-14 February
WRC Round 3: Mexico, 3-6 March
WRC Round 4: Argentina, 21-24 April
WRC Round 5: Portugal, 19-22 May
WRC Round 6: Italy, 9-12 June
WRC Round 7: Poland, 1-3 July
WRC Round 8: Finland, 28-31 July
WRC Round 9: Germany, 18-21 August
WRC Round 10: China, 8-11 September
WRC Round 11: France, 29 September – 2 October
WRC Round 12: Spain, 13-16 October
WRC Round 13: Great Britain, 27-30 October
WRC Round 14: Australia, 17-20 November
Media release by Kate Gordon-Smith/Relish Communications