4 Jul 2019

Hayden Paddon to drive in WRC Rally Finland

9:49 am on 4 July 2019

Hayden Paddon will return to the WRC in August.

Hayden Paddon.

Hayden Paddon. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Paddon has signed a deal to drive an M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC car at Rally Finland.

The 32-year-old had been a part of the Hyundai team from 2014 to 2018.

Paddon admitted missing out on a Hyundai seat hurt, after his former employer picked Craig Breen for Rally Finland, and he was no longer prepared to wait for his WRC return.

"It has been really hard sitting at home watching the WRC unfold this year, especially as I know we can deliver at a high level," he said.

"After the Hyundai Motorsport news last week, we decided to make things happen as we are not going to achieve anything by sitting around."

Paddon contacted M-Sport, the team with whom he made his World Rally Car debut in a Fiesta RS at the 2013 Rally of Spain, and had a deal tied up in two days.

With John Kennard returning as his co-driver, Paddon is understandably delighted to have this opportunity to contest one of his favourite World Rally Championship events, particularly as the deal comes with the full support of his long-term commercial partner, Hyundai New Zealand.

"Obviously I'm very excited to be back in the WRC," Paddon said.

"Firstly, huge thanks to the team at Hyundai New Zealand who continue to support me fully. For them to have allowed us to chase this opportunity - it speaks volumes of how much they support my career and aspirations. It is truly humbling. And thank you to everyone who has contributed financially to make this drive with M-Sport possible. Many of our existing shareholders in Hayden Paddon Rallysport Global (HPRG) have come back onboard to make this happen and in a very short space of time. It's amazing!"

Paddon appreciated the commitment and swift action of WRC team M-Sport. "My thanks also to the M-Sport team who have been able to put this deal together for us in a matter of days. I'm excited to be working with them - it seems we are all on the same page, even in these early stages, which is a fantastic place to be."

Paddon will complete a one-day test with the team in the Fiesta WRC before the 1-4 August running of Rally Finland.

"We will be giving the rally 110 per cent. Obviously being out of WRC competition for eight months puts us a little on the back foot, but both John and I are confident we can hop in, prepare well and be near the front. A top five would be the minimum expectation from myself but as always, I will be pushing for more.

"The ultimate goal is to be back in the WRC more regularly in 2020. I'm in a good phase at the moment; I feel like from a personal perspective and in terms of driving ability, things are at a good level and I want to utilise those skills again at the highest levels of world competition. I still have a lot I know I can achieve in the WRC - we just need that opportunity."