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Special Edition road car and special new rally car revealed by Hyundai New Zealand
New Zealand rally driver Hayden Paddon, along with Hyundai Motorsport, has announced a new local programme for New Zealand — a programme that sees Paddon get back behind the wheel, as well as open up a plethora of opportunities for those wanting to pursue a career in rallying.
Paddon and co-driver John Kennard will compete in the Rally of Otago and the International Rally of Whangarei in the new Hyundai i20 the team revealed earlier this morning.
“It will be a great honour to drive and tour my favourite rallies in the world, the best roads in the world. It's something I'm really looking forward to,” Paddon said.
Built by Andrew Hawkeswood at Force Motorsport, the car has been produced to new regional AP4 regulations, and functions as another potential option for New Zealand's domestic rallying future beyond the aging Group N platform.
The interior of the new i20. Photo / Matthew Hansen
“It gives us a base to work with Force Motorsport to develop a new class of car in New Zealand. The old Group N cars have become aged, and we need a replacement,” added Paddon.
It is powered by a 1.8-litre turbocharged engine, but the team are yet to determine how powerful it is — something that will be found out when it meets a dyno on Saturday.
“This Hyundai looks great, performs great, and I think it's a viable option forthe future of national rally in New Zealand.”
“In that sense, I think this is the start of something great.”
After impressing worldwide through his exploits in the World Rally Championship (WRC) with Hyundai Motorsport — which will remain his competitive focus — Paddon's return has also been motivated by a desire to bring the WRC back to our shores.
“Rally for me isn't a sport, or a hobby, it's a life. It's a sport that I've dedicated a lot to, but it's also a sport that's given a lot back to me.
“I like having these projects on the side to help the profile of New Zealand rallying, generally grow the sport, [with] the ultimate goal will be to get Rally New Zealand back.”
Photo / Matthew Hansen
The new rally car was one of a number of announcements made at the event, with the creation of the Paddon Foundation also announced — an incentive that will financially assist domestic rally competitors in finding their feet.
Also present at the event was Bernice Mene, with a partnership between Pinnacle Programme — a student-based scholarship and mentoring group Mene represents — and Hyundai New Zealand just another of the announcements designed to nurture and build up the sport locally.
The benefits of the Pinnacle Programme are already being felt, with two candidates selected overnight to join Paddon at the new i20's first two events.
Photo / Matthew Hansen
The announcement was supported by the reveal of a new line of 'Hayden Paddon Special Edition' road cars, kicked off by the new Hyundai Santa Fe, which sports fern motifs on its flanks, 'Hayden' badging, larger wheels, and a number of other upgrades.
The Rally of Otago takes place next month on April 8–10.