Hayden Paddon says he was powerless to stop the testing crash that ruined his planned World Rally Championship return in Finland this week.
The New Zealander hit a rock and went off the road in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC on Monday.
This video shows the moment of impact with the rock – which tore the car’s aluminium sumpguard in half and ended Paddon’s hopes of starting his first WRC round since Australia last year.
— Autosport (@autosport) July 29, 2019
“After the accident I thought about things and asked myself: ‘So, what would I have done differently?'” Paddon told Autosport.
“And the answer is actually nothing. That’s one of the things that’s actually so hard [to accept].
“The corner’s pretty much a flat [out] corner, but the approach to it is blind because of a small crest.
“We came over that crest committed to the corner and on the same line we’d been on plenty of times before and the rock was just sitting there.
“If you move even half a metre off line at that speed, it’s the end, you’re gone.
“We hit the rock right in the middle of the car and it just threw us off line and straight into the trees. At that speed, on a narrow piece of road like that, there’s nothing you can do.”
After missing out on a potential Hyundai return for Finland, Paddon admitted he was unwilling to “sit and cry in a corner”. He put together a deal with M-Sport in record time.
“After all the effort so many people have put into this, I just don’t know what to say,” he added.
“It’s sport. Sport can be like this, you know. You can’t have the roses every day.
“For the absolute highs to matter and mean so much, you have to have to absolute lows and this is one of them.
“I’m gutted because I came to Finland in such a good place, mentally and physically I’ve never been prepared for a rally like this.
“Everything was right and everything was ready. There was no lack of effort anywhere or from anyone, we put everything into this. Everything.
“I’d say I’m gutted, but that doesn’t come close.”