Hayden Paddon isn't giving up on the World Rally Championship
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
Few race drivers will go through a greater roller-coaster of emotions in their full calendar year than Hayden Paddon will have just gone through over the last 30 days or so.
He made an up-and-down debut in rallycross, he got 'snubbed' by Hyundai for the team's vacant WRC seat at Rally Finland, then scored a late drive with Ford squad M-Sport (partially funded, uniquely, by Hyundai New Zealand) only to have a huge crash in testing that ended his campaign before the rally had even begun.
“It’s a set back of course, but it’s part of the game,” Paddon said, in an interview with RNZ.
“By all means it’s not closed doors or closed shop just yet. The team [M-Sport] have been really supportive and are on the same page as us. They understand that no one was really at fault for this one, it was literally almost a freak accident.
“They were very respectful of that and they’re going to help us try and get back into the car as soon as possible."
The current New Zealand Rally Champion has been known for bad luck and incidents, which was part of why he lost his full-time drive with Hyundai at the end of 2017. But last year's season was a vast improvement in consistency.
Drivers operating in part-time factory roles are expected to not fight for wins and podiums, but rather consolidate a team's push for manufacturer points. And while Paddon didn't win any rallies, he only had one DNF to his name from seven starts. Over the course of the season he was the team's second most consistent driver on a points-per-rally basis, and he ended up beating Hyundai's other part-timer, Dani Sordo, in the points.
A future deal of some kind looks likely with the Malcolm Wilson-run M-Sport outfit. Whether it'll be another cameo one-off drive or even a more prolific position remains to be seen, and could hinge on all sorts of elements including securing funding.
“We’re still in dialogue with M-Sport,” Paddon added. “They’re still interested to have us in the car and of course we want to try and make it happen as well. Probably over the next couple of weeks we’ll try and have some discussions.
“We can’t let it end like this. We definitely want to make sure we’re back in the [WRC] car this year again anyway.”