Paddon’s preparations pay off

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New Zealander driver Hayden Paddon steers his Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC with compatriot co-driver John Kennard during Special Stage No. 16 of the World Rally Champion Argentina 2016 near El Condor, Cordoba, Argentina on April 25.  AFP PHOTO

New Zealander driver Hayden Paddon steers his Hyundai New Generation i20 WRC with compatriot co-driver John Kennard during Special Stage No. 16 of the World Rally Champion Argentina 2016 near El Condor, Cordoba, Argentina on April 25. AFP PHOTO

Hayden Paddon of New Zealand credited his winning the recent YPF Rally Argentina of the World Rally Championship (WRC) to his focusing on his weak link: the El Condor stage or Special Stage No. 16 of the race.

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In the run-up to YPF Rally Argentina, Paddon and Norwegian driving analyst Ole-Martin Lundefaret scrutinized every part of the twisty, rock-strewn 16.32-kilometer track in the Traslasierra mountains in a bid to improve the Kiwi’s performance.

The hard work paid off as WRC defending champion Sebastian Ogier of Germany was crushed by Paddon after the Kiwi turned a precarious 2.6-second lead into a 14.3-second winning margin in a thrilling finale to the four-day event.

“We’ve been working together for a few months, trying to develop my driving style,” explained 29-year-old Paddon. “In preparation for this event, we broke down El Condor meter by meter as it was my weakest stage.”

“We studied different people’s onboards on WRC+, looking how they got the most out of their driving and their lines. I made one mistake in the stage but I tried to do everything we talked about and it worked well. It was the stage of my life. I don’t normally enjoy that type of test, when it’s rough and twisty. It has one of the slowest average speeds in the championship and we put in a really good time. It’s a confidence boost now I know we can not only be quick in the fast stages, but also the slow ones,” Paddon added.

The Hyundai i20 driver thought he had blown his chances when he conceded nearly 20 seconds to Ogier in the penultimate test from Mina Clavero to Giulio Cesare.

“That was a big shock. We didn’t have a bad stage but it was very rough and I was trying to look after the car. I thought we would drop a little time but I was surprised to lose that much,” Paddon said.

“I didn’t really think we had a good chance in the last stage but we threw caution to the wind. To win it in that way makes it even sweeter,” he added.

THE TIMES

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