Hayden Paddon signs on for Polaris NZ1000 endurance epic
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Paddon signs on for NZ1000 enduro
Geraldine's Hayden Paddon might spend most of his motorsport schedule touring some of the world's most scenic and challenging roads, but he hasn't forgotten about his New Zealand roots.
In addition to a pair of New Zealand Rally Championship appearances pencilled in for later this year, it's been confirmed that Paddon is also set to contest September's Polaris NZ1000 — the longest off-road race in Australasia.
Paddon will pair up with reigning NZ1000 champion Ben Thomasen in a potent Polaris RZR XP Turbo. The diminuitive machine weighs just 679kg, with its turbocharged 925cc four-stroke engine producing 125kW at a screaming 8000rpm, and 155Nm of torque at 5400rpm.
It's a performance package that should give both Paddon and Thomasen a healthy shot at top honours in the competitive UTV class. The duo will also have overall victory in their sights — something Thomasen achieved in 2015 in a Polaris RZR1000.
Sitting in the North Harbour Hyundai Team RZR pairing's way are a raft of local and international competitors; some of which will travel from as far as North America to compete in the 1000-kilometre enduro.
The NZ1000 drive came about after Paddon took part in a private test day in the Woodhill forest earlier this year. With the high-profile meeting taking place in the middle of a seven-week break in the World Rally Championship calendar — between the ADAC Rallye Deutschland and Rally Catalunya — it meant that the Hyundai Motorsport pilot could fit the event into his racing schedule.
The announcement means that Paddon will compete in three New Zealand events in four months. The NZ1000 pops up between his two appearances racing in the New Zealand Rally Championship at August's Gold Rush Rally Coromandel and November's Tauranga-based Rally New Zealand. All up, Paddon is scheduled to compete in seven events between August and November.
Based in Atiamuri, Waikato, this year's NZ1000 marks the 23rd anniversary of the first event in 1992. Teams navigate 10 laps of a gruelling 50km trail across two days, with a variety of different off-road machines. Paddon's Polaris is set to be dwarfed by the range of unlimited trucks and buggies also set to take on the challenge.
Qualifying for the event takes place on September 8, with racing spanning the Saturday and Sunday of September 9–10. Paddon's immediate focus, meanwhile, is on this weekend's Rally Italia Sardegna, where he's aiming to turn around his run of WRC bad luck.