HAYDON PADDON REFUSES TO LET HIS BREAKTHROUGH WRC VICTORY IN ARGENTINA LAST MONTH ALTER HIS SEASON’S TARGETS AS HE PREPARES FOR THIS WEEK’S VODAFONE RALLY DE PORTUGAL (19 – 22 MAY).
The New Zealander held off Sébastien Ogier in a dramatic finale to secure a popular maiden win, but is adamant he will continue to use this season to put building blocks in place for a future title challenge.
“The win in Argentina was definitely a confidence booster but my feet remain firmly on the ground,” said the 29-year-old Hyundai i20 driver. “We know that in equal conditions we still have work to do to become a regular challenger to Seb.
“But Argentina has proved to me that maybe we can get to this level sooner than we first thought, so we’ll keep working and sticking to our plan and goals from the start of the season.”
Paddon’s victory promoted him to second in the championship and means he will be second in the start order behind leader Ogier for the opening two legs on Friday and Saturday. Both will be handicapped from loose sand on the gravel roads which they must sweep clear to leave better grip, but Paddon views it as part of the learning process.
“While that’s not such an optimum position to be, we’re treating it as an opportunity to try to stay as competitive as possible against Seb ahead of us on the road – in equal conditions.
“It won’t be easy, but the car and myself are improving with every rally so we’ll keep trying to make steps forward. We definitely want to win another rally this year,” he said.
Paddon tested for two days in Portugal last week in wet weather that was a contrast to the dry, warm conditions expected during the rally.
“Despite the conditions being somewhat wet and not so representative of what we’ll find on the rally, it was still good to gather information. We’ve further developed two small areas on the car and while we’re not looking for big gains, every little bit will help,” he added.