20 Dec 2018

Paddon left high and dry by Hyundai, but still dreams of WRC

10:39 am on 20 December 2018

The New Zealand rally driver Hayden Paddon says his dumping from Hyundai for next year's World Rally Championship came as a surprise and showed that no matter how he'd performed this season, he was going to get the chop.

NZ rally driver Hayden Paddon racing in Wales

NZ rally driver Hayden Paddon racing in Wales Photo: © S PRESSE / PANORAMIC 2018

The Geraldine native raced in seven of 13 events for Hyundai this year and he was confident he'd done enough to earn a gig next year after finishing second in Australia last month - a result which helped him finish eighth in the drivers' championship.

However Paddon was dropped last week, with nine-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb joining the team in his place.

Paddon wants to race in the WRC again, but he concedes that may not happen.

"I sort of came to the realisation recently that a lot of it is out of your control. We had, what I thought, was a reasonably good season, we did what the team was asking us to do throughout the year, but we still end up without a seat.

"Obviously we'd take any (WRC) opportunities that arise, but it's also a time to focus on what we can control and push forward on those things and certainly try and get back there (WRC) again."

Hayden Paddon

Hayden Paddon Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Paddon is remaining positive, but he concedes he left high and dry for next season, with his plans now up in the air.

He's sticking with rally, but Paddon's 2019 plans are now uncertain.

"We've had the spanner thrown in the works (not getting a full-time drive with Hyundai) so we're going through potential plans at the moment of what our season could look like. It's still going to involve rallying and motorsport but it might look a little bit different to what it has done in the past. We've just got to push forward and cary on and we've obviously still got ambitions to take on the world of motorsport but in a slightly different format," Paddon said.

Paddon will still race full-time - he says he wouldn't be any good in a 'normal' job - but he concedes motorsport is fickle and says now's not the right time to be a rally driver, with just eight or nine spots on next year's WRC.

Paddon will now take a summer break in Central Otago, where he plans to spend his time catching up with friends and family, riding his mountain bike, swimming in Lake Wanaka and soaking up some South Island sun.