So its that time again…..rally time! However this time we are back on the tarmac and on an event that has not been in the calendar for 7 years – Tour de Corse.
Famously known as the rally of 10,000 corners, I can confirm after 3 days of recce that this statement is not far from the truth. It is one of the twistiest rally’s that I have ever seen and while the roads will be a joy to drive at speed, it will be relentless!
While we have shown good speed on the last 5 gravel rally’s, tarmac is a whole new challenge and one we are taking very seriously. At this level, if we want to fight at the top in the future we cannot just rely on the gravel rally’s – you have to be fast on all surfaces. So its back to school for the time being to develop my technique for this specialist surface and focus on learning as quickly as we can. It’s a hard pill to swallow to be patient and almost forget about the results, but to be realistic we have competed in over 100 gravel rally’s to be at this level while on tarmac we have only completed 7.
To help speed up the learning process, I have spent a lot of time studying data and footage from recent tarmac tests and events (Rally Germany) and have also spent two days with trainers. Nicholas Bernadi – an ex WRC driver who heads up the FFSA training scheme (famous for the upbringing of drivers such as Sebastian Loeb and Sebastian Ogier) has spent some time with me to help pinpoint the areas I need to focus on. I can honestly say that I am now fully aware of the areas to work on, and during testing have been able to replicate this technique. However, to do it on a rally on roads that we are not familiar with, will take a little longer to adapt but we are now on the right path.
Corsica rally is unique for more than 1 reason – none other than its totally unique itinerary. The rally comprises of only 9 stages (3 per day) with each stage averaging 40km with only 2 repeat stages. And the stages here are not your normal 40km, with hundreds and hundreds of corners it will be very hard on tyres, brakes and drivers. To make matters even more challenging, some very bad weather is expected during the start of the rally.
This rally more so than any other will be very important for the pacenotes. Obviously the pacenotes always play a big part but generally on more regular rally’s, we study onboards or are familiar with stages from previous years that we have knowledge – which the pacenotes then confirm come race day. However here, not only because of the 1000’s of corners, but the fact that it is very difficult to read the road and that every corner almost looks the same, its impossible to remember the character of the stages. So its 100% reliant on the pacenotes – making a good job writing them during recce, and then the big job of John delivering them on key during the rally. We back ourselves when it comes to writing pacenotes for new events so we are happy with what we have so far.
Prior to the rally we met some locals in Nice to participate in a famous French sport, Petanque. You can check out how I got on here: https://youtu.be/t9eXKWoC4oI
Tomorrow we start Shakedown and the rally begins on Friday. As always you can keep up to date with our progress on social media or you can find all the quick links on our home page, www.haydenpaddon.com.
Also back home is the final round of the New Zealand Rally Championship in Wairarapa – with one of the best entry lists I have ever seen for a NZ rally. Best of luck to everyone competing and also to those who are fighting for championships. Looking forward to keeping up to date with progress.