Mon 19 Jun 2023

Paddon: Sesks was unstoppable in the ERC at home

Hayden Paddon has admitted it was not possible to beat Mārtiṇš Sesks to victory on Tet Rally Liepāja, adding that the home hero probably could have gone even faster on Latvia’s FIA European Rally Championship counter.

Paddon finished second to the 23-year-old on round four of the season with Sesks also having the edge over the New Zealander on the Power Stage, albeit by a slender margin of 0.001sec aboard his Team MRF Tyres Škoda Fabia RS Rally2.

Afterwards, BRC Racing Team-run Paddon said: “It was always going to be pretty hard to beat Mārtiṇš on his home turf, but we did what we could do. It was probably not [possible to beat him] on this event and he probably had enough reserve as well. Maybe somewhere like Poland we could of [beaten him] but here was always going to be tough. We always knew that though.

“The next rally in Sweden will be, I think, a bit more even between us, the Swedish roads should be a little more to our liking. Obviously, he has the local knowledge here, but that event will be new for everybody and we’ll definitely put up a good fight.”

Sesks moved to within 30 points of Paddon’s championship lead with his second consecutive win of the season. The Pirelli-equipped Hyundai driver has always been mindful of his rival’s threat.

“We saw this last year as well, he dominated [Rally Liepāja] although we’re a lot closer to him this year than we were last year,” said Paddon, 36. “Everyone expected [him to win], he’s very good on these fast gravel rallies. Sweden is another one of these fast gravel rallies but then there’s three very demanding Tarmac rallies to finish the season on, which will be a completely different game. So we’re focused on consistency on all eight rallies across all surfaces and we’re not too worried at the moment.”

Of his Power Stage defeat to Sesks, Paddon explained what went wrong: “I mucked up one of the chicanes and that definitely cost us a second, that’s all the difference it makes sometimes. It’s always very hard with the chicanes here because they [stages] get very rutted on the second pass so it’s like train tracks, so it’s very easy to go in too fast or too slow so there’s a lot of wheelspin and I just missed a gear and few things but nothing too dramatic. At the end of the day it doesn’t take the gloss off what was a good weekend for us.

“Hopefully, come the end of the season, we just need to make sure we didn’t need that one point [for the title]. It was obviously a little frustrating we didn’t quite get those top Power Stage points but, anyway, it’s still good points in the bag and a good first half of the championship so we have to keep going like this for the rest of the season.”

Based in Karlstad, Sweden, the inaugural ERC Royal Rally of Scandinavia is next up on the schedule from 6 - 8 July.

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