Things don't always go to plan

By David Thomson on Sat, 26 May 2018

When I scheduled a road test of Hyundai's new i30 N hot hatch for this weekend's Drivesouth, I did so partly in the hope it would dovetail with an opportunity to reflect on a strong performance by a certain Hyundai driver in last weekend's Portuguese round of the World Rally Championship.

Hyundai delivered in the rally, with a certain i20 WRC taking outright victory. Unfortunately, though, it was the car driven by Belgian ace Thierry Neuville that was star of the show, rather than the one driven by our own Hayden Paddon.

As most readers will know, Paddon's rally ended with a crash on the seventh stage, and a subsequent precautionary overnight stay in hospital. Perhaps the greatest shame was that the Kiwi had been leading the rally heading into the seventh stage, and so was denied the chance to push for what could have been a fabulous result.

Bearing in mind Brendon Hartley's crash in qualifying for the previous weekend's Spanish Grand Prix, the Iberian Peninsula hasn't been a happy hunting ground for New Zealand motorsport stars this month. One can only hope things look up for both drivers as they look east from Portugal and Spain to their next world championship commitments.

Hartley's next race is this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix. On a circuit that is notoriously unforgiving and an absolute devil to overtake on, the Torro Rosso driver needs a clean, strong run through practice and qualifying.

Paddon, meantime, has two weekends up his sleeve ahead of his next WRC appearance on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. He retired from this particular round of the WRC in 2017 and 2016, but can look back at his second placing from 2015 _ his first podium finish on the WRC _ for inspiration.
And don't forget other Kiwis flying the flag on the international stage, either.

Soon after this weekend's Monaco Grand Prix concludes, it will be fingers crossed for Scott Dixon as he contests the 2018 Indy 500 on Monday morning (NZ time). And a week after Paddon's next WRC commitment, East Otago's rider Courtney Duncan will be back on her Yamaha, keen and fully capable of extending her FIM Women's Motocross World Championship lead at the next round in northern Italy.

Last and not least, there are New Zealand racers at the pointy end of the Australian V8 supercar championship after the first six rounds. Heading into the mid-season break we have m Ford Falcon driver Scott McLaughlin leading the series ahead of compatriot Shane van Gisbergen in his Holden Commodore.

Plenty to keep us interested in the offshore exploits of our leading racers and riders then.

David Thomson