Hayden Paddon to stick with Hyundai in 2018
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Kiwi rally driver Hayden Paddon has confirmed he will remain with the Hyundai team in 2018 despite their logjam of drivers.
Thierry Neuville, Andreas Mikkelsen and Dani Sordo are all contracted to the Korean manufacturer along with Paddon next season and the team will only be able to run three cars at most events.
That scenario had prompted rumours of Paddon either having a part-time drive next year or possibly even forcing him to leave for a rival team but he has confirmed he will stick it out.
"I am trying to stay a little withdrawn for that and leaving that to the management people to discuss and sort," Paddon told The Herald.
"Obviously you don't need to be a rocket scientist to know that four drivers don't go into three cars and all four drivers have essentially got the same contract.
"Something is going to have to give next year and we just have to accept that is the way it is going to be.
"How exactly it is going to work we don't know. All we know is that we will be with Hyundai. We will be doing rallies but just how many or what is yet to be decided."
The most logical theory would see Paddon compete on his favoured gravel events while skipping the tarmac rallies. That would make it nearly impossible for him to challenge for the world championship.
But leaving is not an easy move for the Kiwi limited available seats elsewhere and his close working relationship with Hyundai New Zealand.
"I want to stay loyal to the brand," he said. "We have had a difficult year this year - a lot of it has been out of our control. There have been a couple of little mistakes on my part but I think a lot of it has been out of our control and we have been on the back foot chasing our tail all year.
"It isn't what I think is fair or what I agree with it - we are in a pretty cutthroat sport. It is professional sport and when you look at the results board we haven't delivered so that is just the way it is at the moment."
The Hyundai team is clearly not a particularly happy one at present. They missed out on both the drivers' and manufacturers' titles with a round to spare while both Paddon and Sordo are not happy at the prospect of a part-time drive in 2018.
Despite that the relationships with the other drivers hasn't changed.
"The atmosphere is as it has always been," Paddon said. "When we are at the rallies we just focus on doing the best performance each of us can do.
"I don't think it really changes things so much. From my perspective I'm not really worried about competing with the other teammates - my focus is just getting myself back to the level where I know I am capable of.
"If we do that the confidence and the results come from that."
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