Fri 08 Jul 2022

Latvia test gets Paddon set for WRC return

Hayden Paddon will put his Tet Rally Liepāja learnings into practice next week as he makes his WRC comeback at Rally Estonia.

The Kiwi driver finished sixth overall at the ERC’s fifth round and will drive in the WRC2 category next week for the first time since Wales Rally GB in 2019.  

Paddon’s aims for Liepāja were slightly different to the other frontrunning crews. He only took delivery of his brand-new Hyundai i20 N Rally2 a few days before the event, and the weekend was used as a high-speed test session. 

Despite getting to grips with the car, he and co-driver John Kennard posted a handful of top-three stage times and could have ended on the podium were it not for a costly spin on Saturday morning. 

From Paddon’s point of view, however, things are very much still a work in progress.

“We’re not completely set,” he told “If anything, we’ve found out there’s a bigger challenge ahead of us than we initially thought.

“We basically stiffened up the car a lot as the weekend went on. Okay, by doing that I gained some confidence, but we also lost a bit of performance. A lot of the changes we need to make, we have to do when we’re away from the event and in a workshop.

“I think it was a good weekend, though. We learned lots about the car and made plenty of little changes. We’ve got some good information and the car should be much stronger for Estonia, but for sure, it won’t be an overnight thing. 

Paddon and his team drove straight to Estonia earlier this week and are basing themselves out of ALM Motorsport’s workshop near Tallinn.

They have been changing several parts on the car and hope to increase its performance for the WRC’s seventh round.  

“Our objectives remain similar, really,” said the 35-year-old. “We want to step it up from Liepāja, obviously, but our whole programme this year is about building up to next year. 

“We’re pretty much going to go through and change all the differentials, all the suspension and pretty much all the handling components. 

“If we can take a nice step-up in Estonia and then again in Finland, that’s the priority. We’re not focusing on results at the moment - we’re focusing on the feeling in the car. Once we get that right, we can start looking at the times.”

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