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Tuesday, May 28, 2024

WRC winner Paddon not chasing top-level rally return

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The previous manufacturing facility Hyundai driver had hoped to return to the WRC after dropping his drive with the South Korean marque on the finish of 2018, however has been unable to return to top-flight competitors since.

The 2016 Rally Argentina winner was set to affix M-Sport for chosen rounds in Finland and Australia in 2019 though a testing crash dominated him out of the previous, whereas the latter was cancelled because of bushfires in New South Wales.

Paddon had been engaged on a bid to drive a Rally1 automotive at his house spherical in New Zealand final yr however the plans failed to come back to fruition.

The New Zealander’s title was talked about as a possible candidate to re-join Hyundai’s manufacturing facility outfit for this yr following Ott Tanak’s departure to M-Sport, though the 35-year-old confirmed to Autosport that he didn’t enter into any discussions with the staff.

Final yr Paddon took half in three rounds in WRC2 final yr however this yr he’s elected to contest rounds within the European Rally Championship, driving a Hyundai i20 Rally2, alongside a programme in his native New Zealand.  

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“I’m going to be massively busy with a full European marketing campaign and a New Zealand marketing campaign and quite a lot of back-to-back occasions each side of the world, so I’m in all probability going to be fairly puffed by the point I get to the tip of the yr,” Paddon, who received final month’s ERC opener in Portugal, informed Autosport.

“I’m clearly in a distinct a part of my profession now, I’m not making an attempt to get again within the WRC. 

“When you’re younger you do the entire WRC and WRC2 factor to try to get consideration however that ship has sailed now clearly, so I’ve chosen a programme that I’ll take pleasure in extra and is slightly bit extra budget-friendly for us. 

“The huge attraction for the ERC is the truth that you’ll be able to win rallies outright and in WRC2 you’re in a category. I like successful so I need to be successful rallies and never simply the category. 

Hayden Paddon, Sebastian Marshall, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport

Picture by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

“There have been by no means any discussions [with Hyundai for 2023]. I’m a reasonably life like particular person and when you could have been out of the sport for 4 or 5 years it’s so a lot harder to get again in. 

“I used to be fairly darkish about the entire WRC factor after it occurred in 2019, however I’m in a a lot happier place in my life now. I like being again in New Zealand and my choice was to remain residing there and journey forwards and backwards and I like that we’re doing it with our personal staff.” 

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Whereas Paddon says his focus is now away from the WRC, he admits that a possibility to contest Rally New Zealand in a top-level WRC automotive continues to be on his wishlist. 

“I’m not holding out for something that would come up, however after all if there was a possibility you’d be foolish not to have a look at one thing, however I’m staying centered on the issues I can management,” he added.

“The one large factor I might nonetheless love to do, is that if Rally New Zealand does come again once more, is to do it in a WRC automotive. We had been making an attempt to make that occur final yr and it didn’t come to fruition. Doing my house spherical in a WRC automotive could be a dream come true.”    

Paddon is entered to contest the second spherical of the ERC, Rally Islas Canarias, from 5-6 Might. 

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