14 Dec 2018

Motorsport: Paddon loses contract with Hyundai

4:26 pm on 14 December 2018

The New Zealand driver Hayden Paddon has lost his world rally championship contract with Hyundai.

Paddon only had a part time drive with Hyundai this year, competing in seven of the 13 rounds and finishing eighth in the championship.

"It's certainly not easy to say it, but there will be no WRC for us due to there being no opportunities," Paddon said in a video statement.

"The last few months have mentally been very difficult. There's obviously been many discussions in the background and we've been promised and told many things which haven't come to fruition," he said.

Hyundai has signed Frenchman Sebastien Loeb for the next two seasons.

Loeb, a nine-time world champion has signed a deal which has him driving six rounds of the 2019 series beginning with the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally at the end of January.

Dani Sordo will remain with Hyundai for a sixth season. The Spaniard has agreed a one-year deal to share a car with Loeb.

Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen have existing contracts with the manufacturer.

"We were made aware of the Sebastien Loeb decision yesterday and after that we were offered just one rally which in everyone's best interests is not an option for us," said Paddon.

"We did everything that was asked of us this year, we tried to play the team game, we scored the second most points in the team per rally started. We tried to do things in an honest and loyal way and I think we can be proud of that and hold our heads high.

"Naturally I'm obviously disappointed to be in this position, but at the same time I also understand that can be the reality of professional sport and that's just the way it is at the moment."

However Paddon is adamant he will be back.

Hayden Paddon and Seb Marshall competing in Rally Turkey

Hayden Paddon and Seb Marshall competing in Rally Turkey Photo: © Marcin Rybak: Rallyart Photo 2018

"This is certainly not the last you'll hear of me, rally is in my blood and this is just a small bump in the road."

Paddon said he'd had a lot of people asking why he hadn't explored other options.

"We have, but the reality is that there simply aren't that many opportunities in the WRC at the moment. There's eight, maybe 10 seats available so options are few and far between."

He said his time with Hyundai had been "an incredible journey with incredible memories".

"It was 20 years of hard yakka to realise a dream to get to the WRC. Certainly there are some things I feel we still could have achieved, but they will just have to go in the what-if pile."