With such a strong start to the year in January, February would always prove a hard act to follow. Although most of the month was spent planning and booking travel for future motorsport events, I did manage to publish a very special interview with a World Rally Championship star and attend filming for the new BBC Top Gear series. However with a lack of racing I am desperate for the return of the likes of Formula 1 and MotoGP to really bring my blog back to life!

For those of you that might have missed the January edition to this ‘My Motorsport Month‘ feature I am hosting on my blog, I shall quickly fill you in. When planning what I wanted to bring to this website at the end of last year, having monthly diary entries was something that suck with me and that I wanted to give a try. I will be using the platform to share my views and opinions on topics in motorsport, posting any content you may have missed and just generally chatting about what I got up to over the month.

You can read last month’s entry here: My Motorsport Month: January 2017

It may be that only my friends and family take pity on me and read these entries, or it could just be a bit of fun and a nice way to reflect on things I have achieved over the course of the year. Either way I hope they get bigger and better as 2017 goes on.

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH HAYDEN PADDON

The FIA World Rally Championship is something that I have only started watching seriously for the past couple of years. I was aware of the sport and its history from a pretty young age but it wasn’t something that initially grabbed my attention in the way that Formula 1 did as a youngster. That has now dramatically changed and I have become totally obsessed with the motorsport series.

With a new era of the sport now in full swing since the championship got underway Monte Carlo in January, I decided that I would be covering the WRC starting with this exclusive interview from Hyundai’s Hayden Paddon.

Having claimed his first Rally victory in Argentina last season, Paddon is a huge talent in the championship. Although the New Zealander didn’t have the best start to the season, looks to be one of the best underdogs of the current standings and could take more rally victories this year with the impressive Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC at his hands.

Paddon on the new era of WRC: “With everyone starting from a clean sheet of paper, things are wide open. It’s going to be faster, more exciting and with the change of teams and drivers, more open competition. It’s not only exciting for the fans, but also us as drivers.”

Paddon on his goals for this year: “Our main priority is to win the manufacturers championship. [Hyundai] have prepared and developed this car well over the past six months in preparation for this year. I’ll also be disappointed if we don’t [win another rally this year].”

Paddon on the future of motorsport talent in New Zealand: “The future of NZ rallying is very strong – I would almost say one of the strongest national championships in the world. With the new AP4 cars, we have over ten manufacturers in the championship in new cars and over 100 cars at each rally. There are many young drivers, including several 15 -16 year olds who are already showing huge potential. Rally New Zealand is also looking very positive, and while nothing is confirmed and I’m hopeful we will see the WRC back in New Zealand soon.”

You can read the full interview here: Paddon: “I’ll be disappointed if we don’t win another rally this year”

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Hayden Paddon celebrates during the WRC round in Argentina 2016.
FILMING FOR THE NEW BBC TOP GEAR SERIES

This was a huge part of my February but annoyingly I can’t write much about it now – that will have to wait until this weekend once the episode has aired. I plan on publishing a blog about my experience at Dunsfold Park and offering you all a ‘behind-the-scenes’ look at what really goes on during the filming of the show, as well as a review of the episode from the new television series that now features just Matt LeBlanc, Chris Harris and Rory Reid.

With the departure of Chris Evans, notorious loud-mouthed motorhead, the new line up allows the audience to really enjoy the feisty friendship between the three presenters and makes for really great viewing. Whereas before the personalities of Harris and Reid weren’t shown as well as they could be, the new format allows fans to really understand and appreciate the knowledge, talent and passion these two have for what they are doing and… dare I say it, can sometimes make Matt LeBlanc look the weakest member of the three presenters.

In the episode, which airs Sunday 5th March at 8pm on BBC Two for British viewers, the trio head to Kazakhstan in three cars that have arguably surpassed their best performance, racing across the country where they will face challenges along the way and ultimately one presenter and their trusted car (or what is left of it) will win the task. As I said before, I really loved the episode and their challenge filmed in Kazakhstan and dare I say it, actually reminded me of the older episodes that Clarkson, May and Hammond would produce.  I know many argued that the BBC’s decision to continue on Top Gear without the ‘original’ and ‘best-loved’ trio of Jeremy, James and Richard was a terrible idea, myself being one of them, but from what I have seen of this first episode they might have just found their winning formula again.

With an entertaining and amusing challenge, a quality review of an outstanding supercar that left you wanting more and fantastic fun with their special guest, actor James McAvoy, the show is back with a bang and I can’t wait to see how the rest of the series unfolds.

Don’t forget I will be publishing a full behind-the-scenes blog about the day once the episode has aired on Sunday 5th March.

OTHER HIGHLIGHTS FROM FEBRUARY

This month also saw me publish a feature interview with British Jewellery Designer Alyssa Smith. Best known for her intricate motorsport masterpieces, Smith has collaborated with much-loved broadcaster Suzi Perry on a variety of jewellery collections that range from miniature motorbike necklaces to chequered flag bracelet charms. In the piece we discussed the inspiration behind her work, opportunities she has received with her jewellery and the future of her motorsport merchandise.

You can read the full interview here: In Detail: Meet Motorsport Jewellery Designer Alyssa Smith.

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