Unhappy Hayden Paddon responds after getting snubbed by Hyundai
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The tumultuous interplay between Kiwi rally champion Hayden Paddon and his former Hyundai Motorsport World Rally Championship squad has taken yet another turn.
Paddon, left high and dry at the end of last season, has sat on the sidelines waiting for another chance to make a return appearance in the championship with Hyundai. And it looked like a perfect opportunity, a one-off drive with the team at Rally Finland in early August, was in the pipeline.
However, the team instead chose to sign Irish driver Craig Breen. It's a move that Paddon has questioned directly on social media, following what appears to be plenty of dialogue between the New Zealander and the Hyundai team.
"Firstly, happy for Craig [Breen] and I wish him all the best for the rally," said Paddon on a social media post.
"I will point out all the talk that we turned down the offer of a 1 Rally drive with Hyundai is not correct and was blown out of proportion from media speculation. Originally there was talk of this when we first got news of no seat for 2019 last December, and at the time emotion was raw after being left high and dry.
"However nothing was formally discussed. Since February we have actively been in communication to be involved with the team in any role - testing, 1 off rallies (Finland) ... anything."
It's worth noting that, in an online video published six months ago, Paddon stated that he had been offered one rally. But it isn't clear whether that event and the upcoming Finland Rally are one in the same. And potentially, significant dialogue maybe have taken place in the time following.
"My passion is still very high for WRC and I feel I’m at my prime at present. I know the car well and was prepared to jump straight in and do a good job for the team.
"So naturally you can understand we are very upset. I have given my life to this brand in everything I do. Our NZ business, our NZ Hyundai partnership, purchase of a TCR car, everything we possibly could do! And yet we were not even spoken to about this event despite us offering our services several times.
"Since we did our last rally in Australia, we have had very little communication from them — no acknowledgement of our time with them, no formal thank you, no heads up on the future."
Paddon notes that his relationship with Hyundai NZ continues to blossom; manifesting in things like the acquisition of a TCR touring car, corporate tie-ups, and continued showings in domestic rally events.
There has been plenty of discussion suggesting that Paddon should simply sever ties with Hyundai's overseas arms and pursue a drive with another manufacturer. And, the 32-year-old had a response to that, too.
"Many people say we need to cut our ties – well, think of it this way, do you cut your ties for a couple of years in the WRC versus a potential lifetime partnership in this part of the world?
"It’s never as straightforward as most people think."