Hayden Paddon: Rally Catalunya
This busy period of rallying continues this week with Rally Catalunya and a return to both gravel and tarmac. With only a week down time since Corsica and with that time occupied by testing and Rally Legends – it has been busy time. But we have planned and prepared well and ready for a good rally.
Straight after Corsica we flew to Spain to conduct a day of gravel testing. This weekend’s rally is unique for the fact that Day 1 involves 6 gravel stages, and then for Saturday and Sunday we revert back to the traditional Spanish stages. It has felt like a while since our last gravel outing in Finland, so we were able to use this test to focus on some key areas we struggled with previously and felt we made some steps forward. Of course the proof is once we get to the stages and like any other gravel rally, road position will also play a part – but I’m quietly confident we have an improved package.
In terms of the tarmac stages, the faster and more flowing nature of the stages here suit me better, and while both Corsica and Germany did not go to plan, I think we learnt a valuable lesson last time out. Its key that while I take onboard and digest the info and tuition that I have been given recently, we think its more important to just drive – and do what comes naturally. One we get back to a good place, then we can use the recent lessons and advice to fine tune things – but for the time being we need to go back to basics. We are determined to get it right.
Straight after last weeks Spain test, we flew to San Marino for Rally Legend – and exhibition event where we were driving a 2014 spec WRC car run by local Italian team, HMI. We also competed there last year and rates as one of my favourite events of the year. Again this year we were greeted with wet, slippery tarmac conditions, but the whole priority of the weekend is to enjoy ourselves and put a show on for the fans. The fans are so passionate about rallying, and with over 80,000 fans lining the stages and over 150 cars ranging from some of the first rally cars, Group B, Group A, WRC (old and new) it’s a truly unique event. Unfortunately the event did not end on a high note with an incident that stopped the rally early – and our sincere thoughts are with everyone involved. We really hope to return again next year and a huge thanks to the HMI team for inviting and looking after us.
Now the focus is on a good rally this weekend. We are prepared and feeling confident and at the same time fired up from recent sub-par results to try and be more competitive. To do so we will stick to our plan and not put any extra pressure on ourselves.