Hayden Paddon's WRC future uncertain as Loeb signs with Hyundai
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Hyundai Motorsport has confirmed the signing of Sébastien Loeb and Dani Sordo to its 2019 FIA World Rally Championship campaign, while Kiwi Hayden Paddon's role with the team remains uncertain.
As part of a two-year contract, nine-time champion Loeb will compete in six rounds of the 2019 season for Hyundai, starting with Rallye Monte-Carlo in January.
For Sordo, a one-year contract extension will see the Spaniard compete in eight events in 2019. Loeb and Sordo will join Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen on the team’s driver roster.
Hyundai Motorsport say they have 'an open dialogue with Hayden Paddon to discuss options for his involvement with the team into next year'.
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: "We are also still in talks with Hayden to see how we can work together into 2019. He is a great talent and a tremendous ambassador for Hyundai NZ, leading various motorsport projects.”
Paddon confirmed with Driven earlier this week that Hyundai was his only option for 2019 and discussions were still ongoing.
"There is no other option anywhere else," said Paddon. "What we’ve done with Hyundai New Zealand has been substantial in the past and we have a long-term arrangement with Hyundai New Zealand.
"WRC is the main priority for now but that can only go on for another three-to-five years and I need to plan for life after WRC as well.
"We’ve got a nice programme in New Zealand that will be a step-up next year. There will be a new car at some point but I can’t give away too much about that at the moment.
"We’re also relocating our workshop down to Cromwell [from Auckland] with some new facilities and a few more people. Things are growing on that front.’’
Paddon said he won’t be defending his New Zealand Rally Championship crown in 2019.
"Not in `19. We’ll do some New Zealand rallies next year but the idea is to do some other things outside of the NZRC as well.’’