Hayden Paddon is one of Hyundai N Sport's star rally drivers, having just taken out second position in this year’s Rally Australia.
The day after the rally, apart from having a ride in the passenger seat of his i20 Coupe WRC car, I managed to catch up with him between sessions to ask some quick (and not so serious) questions.
TW: In your eyes, what is the most challenging rally location in the world?
HP: Every location has its own challenges. When it’s wet here like it was on Sunday, they're some of the most challenging stages we do all year. Monte Carlo can be challenging with the ice and snow, Argentina is challenging because its so rough and Sardinia because it’s so hot.
TW: Do you have a favourite, though?
HP: I’ve always really enjoyed Scandinavia. Finland in summer, because it’s so fast.
TW: How different is the car now than it was before the 2017 rule change?
HP: Obviously it is faster, because now we have about 100hp (75kW) more, the cars handle better and we have more technology built into the differentials and everything. The speed is a lot higher, especially the amount you have to carry through the corners.
TW: We heard that the aero is now more important than ever, can you describe the effect losing or badly damaging a panel has from behind the wheel?
HP: Depends on the kind of rally. If you’re on a fast rally, like tarmac you’ll feel it massively. In the dirt and mud, not as much. But you always want to try and keep the car as intact as possible.
TW: Imagine for a second, you can pick one feature from a regular car, with no performance penalty. What would it be? Air conditioning? Leather seats?
HP: Radio. Radio any day. We do long sections between stages sometimes it would be nice just to have some music playing.
TW: If there was a rally machine you could sample, from any other era, which car would it be and why?
HP: I’d love to drive one of the Group B cars. Our cars today are faster, but more in control, I think Group B cars back in the '80s were just wild, out of control. Heaps of horsepower and you’re not really planted on the road, just sitting on top. I think they would be quite a thrill to drive.
TW: Any particular one you’d pick if you could.
HP: I’ve always loved the [Lancia Delta] S4. The noise it used to make. Very cool car.
I too, am a fan of the Delta S4, but also decidedly less qualified to drive it...
Would you take a Group B car over one of today's WRC machines, or do you value your life? Tell us what you think in the comments below.