One of the best things about Hayden Paddon is how hard it is to define him. We should probably classify him as a WRC newb, but his results this year speak otherwise. He is so mature and serious in his approach, yet he is also keeping both feet (and all four wheels, I should add) on the ground, not allowing himself to be caught in the moment. What this young Kiwi is doing this year is so good, that I often had to ask myself ‘where’s the catch’. There does not seem to be a catch with Hayden, though. His goals are very clear to him, but even more clear are his weaknesses, to him and him only, of course. His strength comes from both extremes, I believe. On one hand, he can see the results of his philosophy, but on the other, he is well aware, as all his interviews reveal, how new and inexperienced he still is. Rallying at this level means you probably never stop learning, so for someone of Hayden’s age and experience, this must be a very complex thing to solve. To find a way to tackle this challenge is a sign of greatness – some handle it well and manage to learn while competing, some stumble and push beyond the limits. Keeping things under control at this point in his career is crucial for Hayden, because we can see this control is yielding results. And that, as a result, brings even more confidence and puts even more emphasize on just how important it is to – keep calm.
Hayden seems to be equally skilled behind the wheel and in his interaction with fans and media. His Q&A sessions are very well known and his interviews are always informative and engaging. This guy knows how to move things (and people) in a positive way, just what the WRC needed. Every driver could learn a thing or two about wisdom from this young guy, even though he is only making his first proper steps on the WRC scene.
We need more drivers like Paddon, but what I really mean is we need more drivers with fresh concepts, original ideas and engaging character. Variety is the name of the game in the WRC. And boy, we could use some variety, especially when it come to rally winners. Could this particular aspect of our sport change soon? According to Mr Paddon, it could, and he is getting ready for his strongest attempt yet. Soon he will get the latest spec i20 WRC and in Australia we could see a very strong outing for the Kiwi.
On topic of Hayden and Australia, here’s a fantastic interview from Yahoo, kindly shared by Gary Boyd. Do read it!