A 100 per cent New Zealand rally team returns to world rallying with confirmation that Hyundai New Zealand is backing Kiwi rally star Hayden Paddon with an exciting new, international partnership.
Under the Hyundai New Zealand Rally banner, Paddon and long-time co-driver John Kennard will compete in a Hyundai i20N Rally2 car in selected events of the WRC2 category of the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship and undertake a full seven-event campaign the following year with the aim of winning the 2023 WRC2 Championship.
The car will be run by Hyundai New Zealand Rally, with Paddon’s established team of engineers, technicians and team management joining Paddon and Kennard, from Cromwell and Blenheim respectively, at the international events.
“We are delighted to work with Hyundai New Zealand as we embark on a two-year WRC2 campaign with the new Hyundai i20N Rally2 car,” says Paddon who is a brand ambassador for Hyundai New Zealand. “This year we have planned a campaign which allows us to get up to speed with the awesome i20N Rally2 car, the car’s development and team development, before undertaking a full seven-round campaign in 2023 with the sole goal of winning that championship title.”
Paddon doesn’t underestimate the challenges ahead, not least with logistics and travel. “But we’re so proud to be taking a Kiwi team to these offshore events, along with some support in Europe and backed by an incredible line-up of New Zealand companies including Hyundai New Zealand to make this unique campaign possible.”
The team’s WRC2 schedule gets underway at Rally Estonia which runs 14-17 July, followed by Rally Finland 4-7 August.
“I’m really looking forward to rallying in Europe again!” says Paddon, having not competed outside New Zealand for more than two years with several possibilities interrupted by Covid.
“We have been trying so hard over the past two years to get back to the WRC. It’s been tough with everything going on in the world. So together with Hyundai New Zealand we decided to take matters into our own hands, and launch a Kiwi team to take on the WRC2.
“I am really excited about doing this campaign with our own team. Of course it’s going to be challenging but we have a clear target for this two-year programme and we will be putting our best foot forward to try and achieve that.”
Chris Blair, General Manager of Hyundai New Zealand, is delighted to see Paddon make his long-awaited return to world rallying and praised Paddon’s never-give-up attitude.
“Hayden is the epitome of what Hyundai New Zealand stands for,” says Blair. “He’s ambitious, innovative, committed and passionate about being Kiwi. We have never stopped believing in his potential and that of the team. Despite adversity in 2019, he bounced back more driven than ever. As a result, we’ve developed the world’s first electric rally car, and here we are again prepared to take on the world with an all-Kiwi rally team in WRC2.”
After the two European events, the Rally2 car comes home to contest Rally New Zealand from 29 September to 2 October.
“I can’t wait to compete on the awesome roads of Rally New Zealand again and show what the Rally2 car is capable of.”
Other events may be added to the competition schedule as the season progresses to assist the team with their development, management and running of the car.
The announcement of Hyundai New Zealand and Paddon’s WRC2 campaign comes at the same time as Hyundai New Zealand announced its support of the 2022 running of Rally New Zealand when the iconic Kiwi rally will again be part of the World Rally Championship.
Paddon adds: “Without the support of Hyundai New Zealand, both our WRC2 campaign and the general health of rallying in New Zealand would not be where it is today, so I am hugely humbled for their faith in us to attempt to bring home a world title. And, of course, the return of WRC Rally New Zealand will be exciting for everyone, being a key ‘must do’ sporting event in New Zealand this year.”
Looking ahead to Rally New Zealand at the end of September, Chris Blair is looking forward to a stronger Hyundai presence at this iconic, world-class event.
“This will be the first Rally New Zealand that Hyundai will compete in with not one, but two Hyundai teams – Hyundai Motorsport in WRC1 and Hyundai New Zealand Rally in WRC2 and AP4,” says Blair.
“It’s set to be a really exciting year for Hyundai New Zealand with our announcement that we’re competing in a two-year WRC2 campaign with Hayden, John and the team, as well as sponsoring Rally New Zealand, an event we are so excited to see return to our shores.”
Hyundai New Zealand has been committed to rallying in New Zealand for many years and Rally New Zealand organisers are thrilled to have their support, along with Paddon acting as an ambassador for the event and competing on his home turf.
“The team at Hyundai New Zealand have been right behind us every step of the way as we’ve lobbied to bring the WRC back to New Zealand and we’re hugely grateful for their persistence and ongoing support through some challenging times,” says Michael Goldstein, CEO Rally New Zealand.
“We are all hugely supportive and full of admiration for their ambition to create a kiwi team that will take on the world of rallying. We wish Hyundai New Zealand Rally Team and Hayden the very best of luck and hope they come into Rally New Zealand, Auckland with some great results under their belt.”
The Hyundai New Zealand Rally WRC2 programme and New Zealand competition programmes are currently being finalised for the Hyundai AP4 and Kona EV cars are supported by Hyundai NZ, Mitre 10 Trade, Pirelli and Winmax Brake Pads. The team’s New Zealand programmes also benefit from the support Meridian Energy, ETCO, Gen Less, Bar’s Bugs, Z Energy, Bartercard, Mike Greer Homes, Repco, Provident Insurance, Ben Nevis Station, TransDiesel, Highlands, Accessman, YHI Energy, Sign It Signs, OMP/Racer Products, Carter’s Tyres, Gravity Internet, Open Country, Makita and Pak’nSave.
Keep up with news on Hayden Paddon, Paddon Rallysport and the Hyundai New Zealand Rally team by subscribing to Paddon’s Pack at www.paddonspack.co.nz