Paddon on Monte
21 Jan 2016
By Hayden Paddon
Well it doesnít seem that long ago the 2015 season ended and we were celebrating the festive season with family. But now its time to kick off what is going to be a big year with our debut at Rally Monte Carlo this week.
This is our first time that we have followed up a near full season with another full WRC campaign Ė and I must admit with the busy schedule it seems like one year and season merges into another. Itís a strange feeling, however Iím certainly not complaining getting back in the car sooner rather than later.
Over the short off-season we have had a busy test schedule, with 3 days Monte test (2 days December and 1 January) and a 2 day test in Sweden with the new generation car that we will debut at round 2. For this week, we will still have the 2015 car, which sounds like a disadvantage compared to our 2 teammates who debut the new 2016 car here but it suits me perfectly.
On such a technical and tricky event such as Monte, coupled with the fact that we have not done this rally before means having a familiar car will make the learning curve that much easier. As much as I like to be competitive, we have to be realistic that on an event like this with no prior experience we do literally have to treat it as a learning exercise. Itís a hard pill to swallow, but all part of the process. Come Sweden on, it will be head down and pushing.
So what makes this rally so unique? Predominantly a tarmac rally, the winter conditions and high altitudes mean snow and ice is common. But to make it trickier you can and probably will encounter all different conditions in one stage (dry, ice, wet) and have to choose a tyre that will work for all. Its normally a compromise with both car setup and tyre choice, but itís a matter of making calculated decisions with our engineers to evaluate what tyreís we will loose the least amount of time with. This is another area that we will have to learn as the rally progresses. However, having 2 experienced team mates who have done this event several times before also means we can piggy back off them a little too.
Already during recce we have seen diverse and changeable conditions. Recent days of snow meant this morningís stages on recce were completely covered in ice and snow. However 3 hours later on the 2nd pass, 80% of the snow had completely melted and the road couldnít have been more contrasting. Unfortunately, it seems no more snow is expected this week and with the increasing sunshine the snow/ice will continue to melt. There will always be patches of snow and ice that our gravel/ice crew will identify during the rally, but at this stage the rally is looking to be predominately wet/damp tarmac.
This is a shame as I was looking forward to some tricky/ice conditions. In these sorts of conditions you are often sliding a lot, which I really enjoy but it is also a more gravel driving technique compared to tarmac. We also saw in recent tests against our teammates that our speed on the snow/ice was quite OK ;)
Really looking forward to getting our season kicked off, and having a strong but steady rally.
This year we have several new ways on how we will keep you posted throughout the rallyís. As an overview:
- new website to be launched post Rally Monte Carlo with special section for other competitors and volunteers
- 14 episode season long video series for beginners or existing competitors to motorsport, ranging from getting started, buying your first car and setting up your car to finding sponsors, improving yourself and working with teams
- Pre event Facebook question and answer session
- Post event Twitter question and answer session
- You will also find my photos of the day/rally on our Instagram account
Of course we will also have all the normal means of updates throughout each rally across all our social media channels. You can find all links on our website www.haydenpaddon.com. Also, if you havenít already checked out WRC+, now is a good time to join up for a season pass. It is a perfect way to follow us and watch live rally stages throughout the season, plus much more: https://plus.wrc.com
In the meantime you can see Episode 1 of our new video series here: https://youtu.be/DaxWkwXNLok
It has also been great to recently confirm our continued partnerships with our loyal and passionate partners: Hyundai NZ, PakníSave and Z Energy. To also confirm a 3 year contract with Hyundai NZ and Z, is very humbling to be representing some of NZís biggest and most trusted brands. Together with our partners we have some exciting projects to be rolled out both this year and in the future, including a new merchandise range, which will soon be released.
Sorry for the long update, but a few things to update you of before the year gets started. Look forward to keeping you posted and thanks for all the messages of support. Lets do this!