Hayden Paddon returns: Kiwi announces WRC deal with Ford
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New Zealand rally star Hayden Paddon returns to the top level of world rallying with the announcement that he will drive the third M-Sport Fiesta WRC car at Rally Finland in August.
With John Kennard returning as his co-driver, Paddon is understandably delighted to have this opportunity to contest one of his favourite FIA World Rally Championship events, particularly as the deal comes with the full support of his long-term commercial partner, Hyundai New Zealand.
“Obviously I’m very excited to be back in the WRC,” says Paddon.
“It has been really hard sitting at home watching the WRC unfold this year, especially as I know we can deliver at a high level. After the Hyundai Motorsport news last week, we decided to make things happen as we are not going to achieve anything by sitting around.”
Hyundai New Zealand’s General Manager Andy Sinclair believes Paddon is a world-class driver who deserves to be on the WRC circuit.
“Despite the disappointment that Hayden has faced since the end of last year, he has remained positive and committed to his WRC dream. We have and always will stand behind him in his pursuit to drive in the WRC,” says Sinclair.
Paddon appreciates the commitment and swift action of WRC team M-Sport. “My thanks also to the M-Sport team who have been able to put this deal together for us in a matter of days. I’m excited to be working with them – it seems we are all on the same page, even in these early stages, which is a fantastic place to be.”
Paddon will complete a one-day test with the team in the Fiesta WRC before the 1-4 August running of Rally Finland.
“We will be giving the rally 110 per cent. Obviously being out of WRC competition for eight months puts us a little on the back foot, but both John and I are confident we can hop in, prepare well and be near the front. A top five would be the minimum expectation from myself but as always, I will be pushing for more.
“The ultimate goal is to be back in the WRC more regularly in 2020. I’m in a good phase at the moment; I feel like from a personal perspective and in terms of driving ability, things are at a good level and I want to utilise those skills again at the highest levels of world competition. I still have a lot I know I can achieve in the WRC – we just need that opportunity.”