Hayden Paddon has expressed his determination to come back stronger as well as his disappointment in himself following his retirement from the second World Rally Championship event in a row.
Paddon and long-time co-driver John Kennard were forced to retire from Rally Italia Sardegna following an off-road excursion on Friday afternoon (European time) which left their brand-new Hyundai i20 WRC car too damaged to be repaired by the team overnight.
“Obviously it’s very disappointing to end the rally in this fashion,” said Paddon from the rally’s service park in the coastal resort town of Alghero in the north-west of Sardinia.
“I can only say that I’m sorry to the team. It was another very silly mistake,” he said, referencing the incident which took the New Zealand pairing out of the previous event in Portugal where, following a small error, their car burned to the ground.
“We were just trying to have a clean afternoon after the problems we were having in the morning. We were going at a good speed, but just got caught out by doing too wide on the tarmac for the last left-hand corner of stage seven. We got sucked into the gravel and couldn’t turn the car in and then we were a passenger from there.”
The car rolled down a slope, causing considerable damage the rear.
“It’s a very hard pill to swallow to have two rallies in a row end like this from very silly mistakes. Okay, I’m sure we’ll come back stronger and we’ll sit down and go through things substantially to learn from this and to be stronger in the future, but this is not what I expect of myself and we need to be better; we will make sure we come back stronger.”
Earlier on Friday, Paddon and Kennard started the day’s scheduled eight stages strongly with a second quickest time through SS2. Then a spin in SS4 saw them hit a wall in the resulting cloud of dust which broke a rear toe-arm. They were able to replace the rear suspension during the touring stage to SS5, and then bounced back to the top of the stage times with a third quickest time. Following the midday service, Paddon and Kennard also secured the third-fastest time on stage six.
Hyundai Motorsport Team Principal Michel Nandan commented: “It was another disappointing retirement for Hayden. He is quick to acknowledge what happened and we appreciate his honesty; this is rallying and these things happen.”
Having assessed the damage to the i20 to see if it could be repaired and allow Paddon to be able to re-join for Saturday’s action under Rally 2 regulations, the team concluded this was not possible, thus confirming Paddon’s retirement from the rally.
Meanwhile, Hyundai Motorsport enjoyed seeing Paddon’s team-mate Thierry Neuville leading the event with Dani Sordo holding sixth. Rally Italia Sardegna continues on Saturday and Sunday, while Paddon may return to his European base early.