Mon 13 Mar 2023

Why Paddon’s past experience was key to ERC glory

Hayden Paddon has explained how he made previous extensive experience count to begin his first FIA European Rally Championship challenge with victory.

Paddon, a one-time World championship event winner, took top spot on Rally Serras de Fafe, Felgueiras, Boticas, Vieira do Minho e Cabeceiras de Basto when long-term leader Mikko Heikkilä was forced to change a damaged tyre on the Power Stage yesterday afternoon.

Having fought his way up to second position on the challenging gravel event, Paddon was perfectly placed to profit from the Finnish driver’s misfortune to land his maiden ERC win aboard a Pirelli-equipped Hyundai i20 N Rally2.

“We weren’t the outright fastest this weekend but we had the pace to hold it consistently throughout the rally and I’ve learnt from the past you’ve gotta be fast over all stages, not just one or two,” said the 35-year-old. “But also you’ve got to look after the tyres, especially when it’s rough like it was, so for sure it helps to have that experience.

“We’ve been pushing, but not taking the risks and that’s been the whole philosophy for the whole weekend, pick a speed and hold it and today that went down quite well.”

Although Paddon’s measured approach was key to his success in Portugal, he acknowledges there will be no holding back on the ERC’s high-speed gravel rallies.

“When we go to Poland, Latvia, Sweden, these young guys are seriously fast and go seriously flat out and we have to keep up with it as well,” New Zealander Paddon said.

Paddon’s victory in Fafe was revenge for a number of disappointments on Portugal’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship in the past.

“We’ve gone well in Portugal in the past speed wise, but we’ve never put together a result so even just being up on the podium on top of Fafe was actually quite special because it’s the home of rallying, that was cool. This is definitely right up there [with my other career achievements].”

Gabriele Palmitesta, Team Manager at Paddon’s BRC Racing Team, said: “For sure we are very satisfied. Hayden had a very good approach on the event, he was really focused and committed on having a good speed without mistakes. At the end it paid off and we’re very happy to win the first event of the season. We are looking for the championship now.

“Our last event was on a circuit in Saudi Arabia in November where we won the World Touring Car title and now we are here in Portugal winning the first event of the ERC season. I’m very proud of the work of the of the team, they did a fantastic job, especially in these last few weeks and with the weather we had. I would like to say a big thanks to everyone in the team and for all their hard work.”

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM