Missing out on the World Rally Championship (WRC) has forced New Zealand rally driver Haydon Paddon into coming up with a multi pronged rally programme for 2019.
The Geraldine native raced in seven of 13 WRC events for Hyundai last year year finishing eighth on the drivers championship and he was confident he’d done enough to earn a new contract.
However, in December he was dropped and replaced by nine-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb.
He now has a new contract with Hyundai New Zealand, with the New Zealand-owned company increasing their support of both Paddon personally and Paddon Rallysport as they undertake a swathe of new projects.
A busy 2019 driving programme will include three New Zealand events.
The team will enter the New Zealand-built Hyundai i20 AP4+ car in the new format FIA Asia Pacific Championship category at Rally Otago in April and May’s International Rally of Whangarei, followed by Paddon’s ‘home’ event, the South Canterbury Rally in June.
Blenheim-based John Kennard will co-drive for Paddon at Rally Otago with the co-driver for future events still to be announced.
Paddon then joins the new Global Rallycross series in Europe, the first round taking place in late June.
Back in New Zealand, the team will convert the Hyundai into its 800bhp hillclimb spec to tackle the Ashley Forest Rallysprint in September plus some other iconic local rallysprints.
Other events yet to be confirmed but are on the radar are San Marino’s Rally Legend (October) and some events in Australia.
Paddon continues to seek options to contest future World Rally Championship events in either a WRC or an R5-spec car.
“While we would obviously still like to be in the WRC, that was a decision that was outside our control,” said Paddon.
“The team at Hyundai New Zealand have been nothing but supportive and that’s something I will never turn my back on….and we have certainly not given up on the ultimate goal of being back in the WRC.”
“Between Paddon Rallysport and Hyundai New Zealand, we have some big ambitions! Short term that involves a heavier motorsport presence here in New Zealand, but longer term, we are working together for an international campaign run by a 100 per cent Kiwi team.”
Paddon is making sure he’s ready to compete at the highest level, whenever he gets the opportunity.
“Physical fitness and mental training, driving practice during our 2019 season and pace notes are all aspects of my sport that I continue to work on and improve, so if there is a chance to compete in WRC events, we will prove once and for all that we do belong there.”