Hayden Paddon: Rally Germany
Yet again it's rally week – but it's the start of a new period of the championship….Tarmac. This weeks Rally Germany is the first of a series of 4 Tarmac events and while the black stuff is not my preferred surface, it is an opportunity to learn and develop for the future.
This is somewhat of a home event for the team, with base situated only 2 hours drive from the rallies host city of Trier. It is quite a unique event however – with effectively 3 Tarmac rallies in one. The stages vary from smooth narrow vineyard lanes, fast/bumpy public roads and of course the ever changing army range of Baumholder. What this means is having to adapt to each stage with both the car setup and driving technique.
Speaking of which – coming from a gravel background this is the biggest thing I have to change. The key on Tarmac is to be smooth – but this is not just with the lines we drive on the road but also relates to the input of brakes, throttle and steering. Perhaps the hardest thing to get used to however is the feeling of lack of speed you get. But it's deceptive – in fact because of the higher grip levels the speeds are higher, but because of both the lack of attitude/moving of the car and the smoother driving style, it doesn't. So it's just as much a mental challenge to adapt and have the right feeling for the speed.
It's been a busy 2 weeks since Finland which started by flying straight to south of France where I spend a day in a very cool 600bhp GT car on the race track further developing my technique. With the help of Nicholas Berhandi and the team running the car we were able to focus on some key areas which I will look to put into practice this weekend. In the heat of competition that's easier said than done however. We also had 2 further Tarmac tests to dial in the car settings plus 2 days of the gravel in south of France with the 2017 car.
Looking forward to this weekend and it's nice to go into an event with no pressure or expectations from the team or myself. Of course I always challenge myself to do the best job possible, but this weekend is about finishing to gain maximum mileage and to continue to improve stage by stage.
It's also great that we will share this event with many Kiwis who are joining us here on our tour group – I'm sure it will help us to lift our game that little extra.
As always you can follow our progress throughout the weekend via all the links on our website – www.haydenpaddon.com.