Hayden Paddon and Hyundai New Zealand are again joining forces to put together a full-on campaign in the 2017 New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC).
Competing under the Hyundai New Zealand Rally Team banner, the team will contest all six championship rounds with the Hyundai i20 AP4+ spec car launched so successfully in Paddon’s hands in 2016.
First into the driver’s seat is defending New Zealand rally champion David Holder, who’ll contest the NZRC’s two April events, the Otago Rally and the International Rally of Whangarei. Taking the wheel for June’s Rally Canterbury and Rally Waikato in October is Job Quantock, the 22-year-old who won the inaugural Hyundai NZ Young Driver Scholarship in December last year. Paddon takes over the i20 rally car for the other two NZRC events, Rally Coromandel in August and the two-day, Tauranga-based Rally New Zealand in November.
The team is run by Paddon Rallysport with Paddon himself as co-manager alongside his Wanaka-based father Chris Paddon. They have already appointed very experienced engineer Mike Pittams, of Force Automotive in Tauranga, as the car chief of the Hyundai NZ Rally Team. Paddon says Pittams’ wealth of experience will help the team deliver a fast and reliable package.
“I’m incredibly excited to see this project step up to the next level,” says Paddon while home in New Zealand ahead of the third round of the FIA World Rally Championship in Mexico where he competes with Hyundai Motorsport.
“This rally programme is like a baby to me and gives me a lot of satisfaction that, with the support of Hyundai New Zealand and Paddon Rallysport, we are able to give opportunities to other drivers. We are running what is essentially a manufacturer dealer team in the New Zealand Rally Championship, which is fantastic. As has been the case over the past four seasons, Hyundai New Zealand plays a pivotal role in our rally programme and my career. Their ambition to help and grow projects is second to none.”
The goal is for the Hyundai New Zealand Rally Team to win the manufacturers’ championship title.
Paddon adds: “My main target is obviously the WRC programme, but to keep me sane it’s good to have projects outside the WRC; they give me a different perspective on things. This programme does just that, however having my father Chris managing things on the ground takes a lot of pressure off.”
The key expectation for both Holder and Quantock is for them to develop as drivers.
“We know we have a competitive package with the Hyundai AP4+ car and believe David can be competitive on the road while, at the same time, further developing his skills. However, Job is still very green and the whole point of the scholarship programme is to work with him to help him grow.
“As a team, our goal is to win the manufacturers’ title. We have also enlisted the help of some new, young engineers and technicians, which fits nicely with our goal of developing talent for rally-sport in New Zealand.
“The best part of this programme is that I still get a chance to compete locally. I miss New Zealand a lot and we have the best roads and rallies, so to have the chance to still compete at home is amazing.”
From the perspective of Hyundai New Zealand as the team’s naming rights’ backer, the upcoming six-round NZRC season is another major progression in New Zealand motorsport.
“We’re excited to have our team comprising a former champion with Hayden, a defending champion with David and a future champion with Job,” says Andy Sinclair, Hyundai New Zealand’s general manager. “In particular, we’re looking forward to seeing how young Job Quantock progresses after he secured the inaugural Hyundai NZ Young Drivers’ Shootout last year. Another great aspect to the New Zealand Rally Championship is it takes our motorsport activities into several regions around New Zealand where we know our Hyundai dealer network will get in and support the team as well. It’s going to be an exciting year ahead!”
Originally from Invercargill and now based in Tauranga, Holder won the 2016 NZRC title with one round to go. The 27-year-old considers it a huge privilege to have the opportunity to represent both Hyundai New Zealand and Paddon Rallysport.
“Driving for a manufacturer-based team, spearheaded by a WRC star is something you dream about,” Holder says. “When Hayden approached me mid last year it was both surprising and hugely exciting. Clearly, we want to do our best for the team and help win the 2017 manufacturers’ title, but need to be realistic in our expectations, and will work with Hayden and the team to plan our approach to each event to extract the best from me and the car.”
With Jason Farmer in the co-driver’s seat, Holder knows he has more experience to gain. “To work with and learn from a such professional team is an absolutely invaluable experience.”
With a small test in the Hyundai AP4+ car last year, Holder says it’s a serious piece of machinery. “There’s a great ability to tune the car’s setup, something I’m looking forward to learning more about with Hayden and Job during a test session we have later this week.”
Quantock, who is originally from Ashburton and now based Ohoka, north of Christchurch, was thrilled to win the young driver scholarship, which attracted over 180 applicants, in December last year.
“It’s going to be a really exciting year for us – lots of amazing opportunities that we could of never dreamed of,” says the 22-year-old who has university friend Alan Steele as his co-driver. “Just being able to work alongside Hayden and the team will be surreal, and learning from Dave Holder’s NZRC experiences will be a big leg up for us too, this being our first year competing in the NZRC.”
Having driven the car during last year’s Hyundai NZ Young Drivers Shootout, Quantock was impressed by the high calibre of the car’s build, grip and potential. “It is going to take a bit to learn how to drive it as it is a large jump up from our current car. This year is all about learning for us and soaking up as much information as we can from everyone involved in this project, but especially Hayden. We want to really concentrate on improving our driving style and developing our pace note system as this is still relatively new to Allan and me.”
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2017 Hyundai New Zealand Rally Team schedule
Round 1: Rally of Otago, Dunedin – 8-9 April (Holder)
Round 2: International Rally of Whangarei – 28-30 April (Holder)
Round 3: Canterbury Rally, Christchurch – 4 June (Quantock)
Round 4: Rally of Coromandel – 26 August (Paddon)
Round 5: Rally Waikato, Waitomo – 14 October (Quantock)
Round 6, Rally New Zealand, Tauranga – 25-26 November (Paddon)
by Kate Gordon-Smith/Relish Communications