Geraldine's Hayden Paddon is happy after finishing eighth in the World Rally Championship's event in Poland yesterday.
Sebastien Ogier took out the rally and takes a massive 50-point lead into the second half of the championship.
Ogier was fastest on 10 of the 22 stages, beating home Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen by 1 minute 07 seconds to record his 21st career victory.
Paddon and co-driver John Kennard finished 4min 32sec behind Ogier and scored four championships point for eighth, his first for new team Hyundai Motorsport, in his second event of 2014.
Paddon, 27, said he learnt a lot about his driving and where he needed to improve.
"On different stages I was trying some slightly different techniques - some which did and didn't work but this is all part of the learning process.
"To also get so close to a stage win [he missed out by 0.7sec on stage 3] was both a pleasant surprise but also a little frustrating to know it was so close."
Paddon's speed throughout the weekend was much closer to both the leaders and his team-mates.
"Some stages where the road was smoother and more flowing, we were competitive. However, when the road becomes a little more technical this is where we are currently losing time."
Paddon was also pleased to have closed the gap to his experienced team-mate Thierry Neuville, who finished third, to an average of 0.5 seconds per kilometre.
Paddon is happy with the performance improvements he and Kennard have been able to make on the Polish event, although admits his competitive nature always has him hoping for more.
"We've achieved all our goals this weekend and have made some really good gains from Sardinia.
"We're certainly a lot closer to the leaders and a lot closer to our team-mates and know the places where we can still be stronger."
The next WRC event is in Finland, from August 1-3 and Paddon feels positive about his prospects to continue improving as it is an event he has competed in the last three years.
"We can use a lot of information from this event, being quite similar and both fast events.
"The main goal for Finland is to take the same step up again as we have here, so John and I are really looking forward to that."
Paddon returns to New Zealand shortly for a two-week stint of sponsor engagements before returning to Europe to test for the Finnish event with the team.
- The Timaru Herald