Even though it’s only been 3 weeks since Rally Poland – it has felt like forever. However, we have kept busy by upping the anti with our preparation including some new training and study methods. Because of this, we are feeling more relaxed and prepared heading into my favorite event of the year.
Rally Finland is like a second home rally for me – this being the 7th time we have done it! It was one of the first international events we did in 2010 with the PSD Scholarship, and we have done it every year since. There have been ups and downs here, but the rally has always been a fast one. This bodes well as not only do the fast nature of the Finnish stages suit me better, but also our NGi20WRC car.
Over the weekend we had a good 1.5 day test. We were initially supposed to do a 1-day test and a local Finnish rally as our test 10 days ago. However, a testing accident prior to this with Dani Sordo meant the car was no longer available and it meant our schedule was reshuffled. It has not affected our build up at all, but our thoughts are with Dani and Marc who we hope make a quick recovery from their injuries. Unfortunately, they are unable to compete in Finland, so Kevin Abbring will step into his seat for this event.
While the nature of the Finland stages are similar to Poland, the main differences here are that the roads are harder base and wider. This means we need a car that is a little more precise as we try and drive more ‘racing’ lines. Of course what makes this rally so iconic is the JUMPS – and there are plenty of them. There is no real art to jumping, as with the technology in suspension nowadays, 90% of them are taken flat. The key is in testing making sure the dampers are adjusted correctly to adsorb the impact and support the chassis on landing.
We are often asked before each rally what is the target. Of course I have my own goals, stage-by-stage and rally-by-rally. However, on gravel rallies we are now at a point where we believe we can be competitive all the time. So each time we get in the car it is to do the best job we can possibly do and the result that is achievable boils down to many factors – such as weather, road position, preparation etc. The prep side we make sure we leave no stone unturned, so now it’s a matter of putting it together on the day. The WRC is also extremely competitive now, with what I believe will be 8-9 of us fighting for the podium this weekend. We all know what my ultimate target is and that is what we are working towards – however if I was to rank what would be the rally in the calendar I would most like to win – its Finland!
It’s also amazing to see how many Kiwis have made the journey here this week. It will give us a real lift having that support and I’m sure they will enjoy the unique atmosphere of Rally Finland.
As always you can follow our progress via all the quick links on our website: www.haydenpaddon.com
Thanks for your support and will keep you posted