5 Minutes With Richard Baddock
One of the most impressive drives to date in the 2016 Brian Green Property Group New Zealand Rally Championship has come from Christchurch young gun Richard Baddock, who currently sits third in the standings. As well as building his own cars as well as for others, Richard also largely self-funds his NZRC campaign, but took five minutes out of his schedule to talk to us about the state of play so far, and when we can expect to see his new hatch-style Subaru out on the stages…
NZRC: First things first, you’re sitting third in the championship and with no Hayden Paddon for the rest of the season, effectively second. Did you ever think that was going to happen?
RB: No, definitely not. If someone said I’d be second in the championship after these two rallies, I’d be pretty surprised to be fair. I don’t really know what to say about it, there is a lot of people in the championship this year and some new cars, there’s a lot of good gear kicking around. If I had the new car running, I would’ve thought being in the top five might be a possibility, but to be where we are right now with the current car, I’m pretty surprised.
NZRC: What do you think the key has been to sitting where you are so far this year? The speed has been good, it’s not just the finishing.
RB: The speed hasn’t been that great! The car hasn’t been up to scratch, the gearbox issue we had up in Whangarei I think has been getting progressively worse for quite a while so we found ourselves trying pretty hard to keep up, but the times continued to slip further and further behind as well. I think the thing that has really got us there is driving at 95%, not going balls out and trying to get the end. I’ve not gone to a rally and thought, right I’m going to push really hard on these stages or this rally or whatever, we’ve just been turning up and doing the same thing all the time, just trying to go as fast as I’ve felt comfortable. I’ve been out of the seat, I hadn’t done a rally in 18 months before Otago, so there was no point in going there and trying to do anything silly, just stay within a comfortable boundary and see what happened really.
NZRC: Now we go to your home rally in Canterbury and normally all the local support is behind your good friend Matt Summerfield. This time you get second choice on the road order board, it’s all on. Does that change your approach to the event?
RB: Na, not really. Being the home event, I don’t know if there is really that much of an advantage, I didn’t do it last year. I know parts of some of the roads, but you don’t 95% of it so I don’t think there’s that much of an advantage being a home rally. Being able to choose the road order is a bit daunting, I’m used to quite a swept road and I’m not going to have that luxury this time. It depends on how the weather goes, if it pisses down with rain for the next two weeks then I suppose I’ll choose number two and Holder will choose number one, but if it’s quite dry it could be quite different. It’ll be interesting anyway, you normally don’t have to think about it, you just get seeded in your position and that’s it.
NZRC: Have you thought much about the game plan for Cantebury? It’s an event you’ve gone well at in the past, will you push a bit harder?
RB: I am planning on pushing a bit harder, you kind of have to. It’s no longer an endurance race, the next three events are all sprints. Especially being a home rally, if there was a rally to do well at this may as well be it. With the changes that we’ve made to the car I’m expecting it to be a lot better than it has been, in fact better than it has ever been. I’m quite looking forward to seeing how well it goes, how well it handles and all that sort of thing, we’re certainly capable of a good result there.
NZRC: You’ve made some changes then?
RB: Just getting the centre diff fixed and modified the other two (front and rear) to make them a bit more rally friendly I suppose, we’re going to try and get a bit of active diff going on, although it’s quite hard to implement on this car. At the moment you have to be really aggressive with it to get it to turn in. We’re definitely planning on pushing a bit harder, but not doing anything silly. At the end of the day as long as I can finish and go relatively quickly, I’m half expecting Hunt to overtake me in the points but I should overtake Paddon which will effectively leave me in the same place I am now, which would be ideal.
NZRC: What would it mean to you to stand on the podium at your home rally?
RB: Mate, that would probably bring a tear to my eye! That would be huge, it would be a great motivator having been away from it for so long. The other thing is we put in so much time and money, we’re pretty much completely self-funded so to get a good result would be an amazing feeling, really, really rewarding, to get there on our own back, it would give me the motivation I need to keep going and get this new car done and keep at it. When you keep pouring money into it and don’t get good results, it can be a bit disheartening, so it would mean the world to us.
NZRC: Speaking of the new car, do you think we will see that this season?
RB: No, that will be next year, there’s no point trying to push it through and get it ready for the end of this year. We can chip away nice and slowly, make a nice job of it, get some time in the seat and do some testing and just make sure it’s absolutely mint. We don’t want to turn up to the first rally next year and have teething troubles like some of the new cars have been having. It’ll be smarter just to treat this year as a warm up for next year really, not that this year isn’t going well, but theoretically next year should go even better.
NZRC: Do you think you’ve opened a few eyes this year, particularly with a few potential sponsors?
RB: Yeah definitely, I reckon people weren’t really expecting too much of me, if I was them I wouldn’t be! Especially with all these new cars and against everyone who competed last year as well, I knew it was going to be a bit of an uphill battle trying to compete with them time wise. We certainly have been turning a few heads in terms of sponsorship, we’ve picked up a bit after Whangarei which hasn’t been made public yet but will be prior to Canterbury. I’d say things are looking pretty good for next year. Bryce (Biggs, Kumho Tyres) is really pleased with our results after we opted to run Kumho’s for the year, so he’s all enthusiastic about helping us, which is ideal as he has a lot of contacts, his knowledge and contacts are invaluable really.
Thanks for your time Richard, and good luck at Christchurch.