New Production Car World Rally Champion Hayden Paddon has admitted that he ‘nearly threw in the rag' while suffering turbo problems during Rally Australia.
By winning the Production Car class and finishing sixth outright on the rally, the New Zealander became the first driver from the Southern Hemisphere to win an FIA World Rally Championship.
Paddon's Rally Australia campaign was far from smooth sailing however, with turbo problems encountered on Saturday threatening to derail his hopes of wrapping up the title.
“In all honesty after the first full stage with no boost I thought we were all over – we lost nearly a minute and a half on the stage,” said Paddon.
“We tried to make some repairs afterwards and they didn't work. I almost threw in the rag then thinking we were going to lose another few minutes, but luckily our repairs actually worked better than we thought and we didn't lose too much time.
“I guess it shows looking back on it that you shouldn't ever give in. It was difficult, but we came back and now we're on top again.”
Paddon, who competed with a locally based Subaru Impreza prepared by his own New Zealand World Rally Team this weekend after regular squad Symtech Racing elected not to travel to Australia, said the completion of the final stage today was an emotional experience.
“I thought I was pretty cool and calm about it but going over the finish line I got goose-bumps up my back – it was pretty cool,” said Paddon.
“It's been a long hard road to get where we are now. Obviously I still want to go further, but there are a lot of people working hard, particularly in New Zealand for us to be here this year and all the hard work has paid off.”
Paddon says he remains focussed on his goal of competing in the outright class of the World Rally Championship, and is working towards a Super 2000 program for next year.
“We've got a five-year plan in place with the company that is funding this program,” he said of the future.
“This was the first year and it's a big tick in the box. It's only going to get harder from here on in though.
“This result aside, we've already been planning and working hard on next year, trying to find the funding, which is the biggest barrier.
“We'd like to go to something like Super 2000 or equivalent, but we're trying to sort the money at the moment and any opportunities that come along we'll certainly look at.”
Paddon was also awarded the ‘Abu Dhabi Spirit of the Rally' award for his efforts over the weekend.