23 Jan 2016

Paddon low key about season opener

12:51 pm on 23 January 2016

A little piece of history was made at the season-opening Monte Carlo WRC rally with Hayden Paddon and John Kennard becoming the first New Zealand driver and co-driver pairing to contest the iconic rally.

New Zealand rally driver Hayden Paddon.

New Zealand rally driver Hayden Paddon. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Paddon, originally from Geraldine, and Kennard, from Blenheim, contest all 14 WRC rounds this year, making it their biggest season of international competition yet.

The pair recently signed a three-year deal to stay with Hyundai.

Paddon said Monte Carlo was completely new for them so their expectations weren't high.

"It's one of the trickiest rallies on the calendar with the change in conditions with the dry tarmac, ice, snow and obviously trying to make the right tyre selections."

"We have a lot to learn here for the first time and we are going to treat this raly as a learning experience, try and get to the finish and get as many miles so we can learn this event for the future and then obviously we can build on that for the rest of the year."

Paddon is still driving last year's Hyundai, while his team-mates Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo are in the 2016 car.

"For this week, we will still have the 2015 car, which sounds like a disadvantage compared to our 2 team-mates who debut the new 2016 car here but it suits me perfectly."

"On such a technical and tricky event such as Monte, coupled with the fact that we have not done this rally before means having a familiar car will make the learning curve that much easier. As much as I like to be competitive, we have to be realistic that on an event like this with no prior experience we do literally have to treat it as a learning exercise. It's a hard pill to swallow, but all part of the process. Come Sweden on, it will be head down and pushing."

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