Hayden Paddon of Hyundai Motorsport has admitted he must make up for his early season performance in future races to become a genuine title contender in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) this year.
In what can be called a harsh self-appraisal, the rally driver from New Zealand conceded he delivered far less than he hoped for in the opening four rounds of the 2017 WRC season.
“For the future we have to focus on a better start to the year. The first three or four events each year are our weakest and we have regularly struggled at this part of the season. This is something I have to rectify if we want any chance in the future to challenge for the championship,” he said.
“The start of the season has fallen well short of my goals, but we now have nine rallies ahead to put that right. We will continue to work harder than ever and never give up to turn this slump of results around,” Paddon added.
His best finish so far is fifth in Mexico, crashed out of the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo and finished seventh in Sweden before claiming a disappointing sixth on Corsica’s asphalt earlier this month.
Paddon hopes next week’s YPF Rally Argentina on April 27 to 30, from which he gained his maiden WRC victory 12 months ago, will offer a way out of his current plight.
“By rally end [in Corsica]I was personally frustrated that we were unable to make the impression I had hoped. However, it’s all behind us now as we now go into five gravel events in a row – and all events we enjoy,” he added.
“While tarmac [asphalt]is a beast we are yet to conquer, it’s not something we have to worry about until August’s Rally Germany. In the meantime, the focus is solely on the gravel and the upcoming Rally Argentina, and remaining in a positive frame of mind and getting our season back on track,” Paddon said.