Hayden Paddon ‘unlucky break’ in Rally Portugal

In sport, it is often the lucky break which can launch a career. A win, or good performance is what is needed to secure the confidence of team mates, managers or sponsors. This past weekend, Hayden Paddon suffered an ‘unlucky break’ in Rally Portugal.

Driving for his Hyundai Motorsport team, the New Zealand driver was leading Rally Portugal when a disastrous and race-ending crash tore his chances away. An unlucky racing incident, but one the Kiwi driver could least afford.

Hayden Paddon ‘unlucky break’ in Rally Portugal

With his future drive uncertain, the 2018 World Rally Championship (WRC) was a year that Hayden Paddon needed to realize the potential that he has. A year in which the circumstances limit his opportunity. So in any drive, he needs to maximize the ability to impress Hyundai (and all the teams).

Paddon was in a good position on the Porta De Lima stage, but as the driver revealed to fans on social media, “unfortunately I made a small mistake to avoid a big rock on the inside of a corner which sent us wide into the ditch. There was a culvert in the ditch to stop us in our tracks.

“Really sorry for the team and everyone supporting us. Awaiting clearance from the hospital”. That final statement showed how intense this crash was, and apparently the damage suffered to his Hyundai i20.

Rally Portugal chances destroyed in serious crash

“At this level, the margins are so small and if we want to take it easy and drive round all the rocks/holes/bumps etc then we are outside the top 10. Modern day WRC is flat out and our apex of the corner was comprised by 10-15cm – that’s the margins we are talking.

“But at the same time, why we all love the WRC. Its good to know that we had strong pace, the feeling with the car is good and we are still positive for the future.” Paddon is realistic, and is hopeful to take any race-pace on to the next Rally of the season.

Rally Italia Sardegna: June 7-10

What must be obvious to the driver, and to the team, are that he has not taken the few opportunities available. In a revised contract, Paddon is contracted to just drive in only seven of 13 rounds of the championship. Only securing a handful of stage wins to date, his future role in WRC will only be secured with podium finishes.

And to make it seem worse, Thierry Neuville won the Rally Portugal, to extend a lead at the top of the driver standings. The senior driver of the Hyundai WRC team holds a lead over all challenges, including five-time champion Sebastien Ogier.

On a day where Ogier, Ott Tänak and Jari-Matti Latvala all crashed, Hyundai driver Dani Sordo also failed to finish [in a Rally that Hyundai had entered four cars into]. Apart from their lead driver, Hyundai management will see Portugal as a failure; and by association, Hayden Paddon.

In positive news for the team though, they currently lead the WRC manufacturer standings; Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT 175 points, M-Sport Ford WRT162 (2nd) and Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT 140 (3rd).

They say you need your lucky breaks in sport. Hayden Paddon will feel that he had an ‘unlucky break’ when he crashed while leading the rally. It will make it harder to prove his doubters wrong, unless the Kiwi driver can finish at the Rally Italia Sardegna [June 7-10] on the podium.

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