Hayden Paddon: Rally Monte Carlo
Happy New Year. Isn’t it always the case, that when we look forward to a nice summer break with family and friends so much, that it is over and back to business before we know it. Our summer break in NZ was just what the doctor ordered to recharge for a big year ahead, although not so acclimatising going from 30 degree heat to the minus temperatures in Europe.
Going into this weekend’s Rally Monte Carlo there is a lot of excitement around the new year. New cars, new driver line ups and a lot of unknowns means there are many unanswered questions. Even for us, while we know how our development program of our new car has gone, we have no idea how we stack up against the competition.
Monte could be a hard rally to do that however, with very cold and wintery conditions we will see more ice this year than previous years. That will mean tyre tactics and negotiating the tricky conditions will be key. It’s quite a way to open the new championship with what I would rate as the most difficult rally on the calendar.
I don’t make any secrets that this is not my favourite rally. While it has so much history and meaning to our sport, from a driving perspective there is nothing worse than the feeling of being out of control when your sliding on ice with slick tyres. That’s why the job of our ice crew is so vital here. We are lucky to have both Brendan Reeves and Seb Marshall as our ice/gravel crew, who will go through the stages 2-3 hours before us to report back how conditions have changed since recce. For example, Sunday stages, we recced on Monday. Here a lot of things can change in 24 hours with thawing and freezing, so 7 days apart means the roads can look quite different from what we saw in recce. We have been working hard with Brendan and Seb to ensure we are all on the same page and I have been blown away with the work and effort they are putting in.
Last week we had a good 2-day test with the new 2017 car. To start with it felt a little strange – as we had not driven a WRC car since Rally Australia (our December test got cancelled) meant we had to ease our way back into it. The new car is working well and makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck. We are looking forward to putting it through its paces in rally conditions.
So what is our target this weekend……simply to FINISH. This is not the rally to push on when we have so limited experience both here and in icy/wintery conditions. We need to gain experience here, spend more time to gel with the car and hopefully pick up some drivers points to kick start our championship.
Throughout the year we will be launching small teaser videos leading up to a two part series of ‘Paddon’s Playground’ – a small rally spectacle that we shot with Flashworks Media when we were in NZ. There is some amazing scenes and backdrops included and you can see a sneak peak with our first teaser which is now live on all our social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).
Thanks for your continued support and look forward to having you onboard with us throughout a big year!