Championship leader Hayden Paddon says it was hard work running first car on the road in today’s first leg of the Wairarapa Rally.
June 2, 2007, 6pm. Hayden Paddon is still leading the 2007 Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship but says a day spent running first car on the road was hard work.
Paddon, who won the last round, finished fifth today.
The first car sweeps the special stages of thick gravel, and the gravel was particularly thick on the special stages in the Pongaroa region today.
It was the first time the 20-year-old had started first on the road in a rally and he was finding it difficult to judge where to put the car, and was wary of the dangers of diving into thickly-gravelled corners.
He’d won the last round of the series at Whangarei where he had had a dream, mistake-free run.
Today couldn’t have been more of a contrast.
“It’s been very different,” he said. “I had a spin in Special Stage 4, and I had a bit of a moment in virtually every stage.”
Paddon said there had been a small section of swept road in SS4, but “the rest of the day there was heaps of gravel around.
“I struggled this morning, and in the last couple of stages I tried something new with my driving, and I’m starting to get a lot more confident.”
Paddon said the thick gravel had meant he had to change the way he drives.
Running further down the order “you can take the line (in corners) that you want.”
But running as road-sweeper and driving into deep gravel “you don’t know whether you’ll be able to turn-in or stop, or what.
“But I’m learning, I guess; I definitely felt like I learned something today, and I plan to continue improving tomorrow.”
Paddon says that in tomorrow’s second leg, the roads are faster and more to his liking than the gnarly country around Pongaroa.
– story by Mike Stock. Photograph from the autotrader.co.nz archives.