Mikkelsen not a threat to Hayden Paddon's WRC seat
Search Driven for vehicles for sale
Free agent rally driver Andreas Mikkelsen impressed in his weekend test with the Hyundai World Rally outfit but Kiwi Hayden Paddon isn't worried about the Norwegian potentially joining his team.
Mikkelsen, who has three WRC victories to his name, has been out of a WRC drive since last year when Volkswagen sensationally quit the sport. While teammates Sebastien Ogier (M-Sport Ford) and Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota) were able to get seats for a 2017 campaign Mikkelsen has competed for Skoda in WRC2 through the opening rounds.
But a weekend test with Hyundai has led to speculation he could be about to join the Korean manufacturer from next month's Rally Portugal in a four-car assault on the championship.
Kiwi Paddon, who has been back in New Zealand ahead of this weekend's Rally Argentina, knew nothing about Mikkelsen's involvement.
"No more than what is in the media," he told herald.co.nz. "We obviously know that he is testing the car and there is obviously some discussions going on behind the scenes.
"We will find out more in due course like everybody else."
Asked if he was worried about any impact a Mikkelsen deal might have on his own campaign Paddon said he wasn't bothered.
"Not at all," he said. "At the end of the day we have a contract until the end of 2018 so it doesn't affect our position. From a competitor's point of view we just have to focus on our own performance and do as well as we can - it doesn't matter who is there or what car they are in they are just someone else we have to be beating."
If Hyundai do expand to a fourth car it would take considerable investment and there is a concern that it could spread their resources too thin but Paddon is convinced it could only be a good thing for the team.
"There is no doubt that a four-car team would certainly be a huge commitment by Hyundai. They are very serious about winning the world championship and they are putting a lot of work and effort behind the scenes to make that happen.
"I have no doubt the team will make the right decision moving forward. Whether that is running three or four cars they are in the best position to know what is best."
Paddon will defend his Rally Argentina crown this week, hoping to get back to the pointy end of the field on his favoured gravel surface.
- NZ Herald