Why didn’t Paddon get an Extreme E drive?

David Evans argues that the XE teams missed an open goal in not hiring the WRC winner


Far be it from me to criticize the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, but I can’t help but feel they’ve missed a bit of a trick.

Actually, it’s more than a bit of a trick. Some might say it’s something of an open goal they’ve missed. This week was my first time among the Extreme E drivers on the good ship St Helena and one thing rang fairly true: none of them have much experience of driving the all-electric Odyssey 21 SUV.

How could they have? There’s only been a handful of opportunities to test the cars and the need to recharge batteries means a day of testing translates into far, far fewer miles than the likes of Sébastien Loeb has been used to.


Photo: Ollie Emery / Extreme E

Much as off-road experience is going to be a big help in reading the grip and having a good grasp on how the conditions will evolve, knowing how to get the best out of electric is right up there as well.

If only there was somebody in the world who’d shown themselves to be fairly tidy on the loose and had half an idea of what was going on with EVs. Imagine if there was, say, a driver out there who’d actually won a round of the World Rally Championship, they’d be useful.

Then imagine if they’d engineered their own electric rally car from the ground up, developing it, alongside one of the world’s biggest carmakers, into one of the most exciting technological developments in the history of rally sport.

And now ask yourself what Hayden Paddon’s doing at home in New Zealand when he should be lining up in AlUla this weekend.

How did they miss him?

Paddon started running his Hyundai Kona EV seriously on gravel earlier this year and talking to the 2016 Rally Argentina winner about the experience was seriously enlightening.

The 900Nm wall of torque on offer to the drivers in Saudi Arabia this week has focused more than the odd mind. But deploying that torque in a way that avoids colossal levels of wheelspin could be where this thing is won and lost.

“Driving an EV definitely requires a very different style,” Paddon told DirtFish, “moderating the throttle is more important in these cars than in the conventional ICE (Internal Combustion Energy) – there’s definitely an art to it.”

Have you watched the video of him driving the Kona? If not, why not? Do so here. And do so now.

Done it?

Now, would you agree with me that Paddon’s a man well and truly on top of his EV? Good.

And the throttle’s just the start, there’s the right way to treat the battery and how best to get the car set up for corners without any hint of engine braking.

EV off-roading? Paddon’s wearing the T-shirt as we speak.