The Hyundai World Rally Team has confirmed the signing of New Zealander Hayden Paddon on a three year contract. The deal sees the 28 year-old and co-driver John Kennard extend their stay with the Korean Manufacturer until 2018.
Hyundai Motorsport has also announced that Paddon will line up alongside existing drivers Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville from Rallye Monte-Carlo 2016. The trio will together contest all rounds of the 2016 World Rally Championship season.
At the beginning of the 2015 campaign, Paddon was handed a limited six-rally programme in a Hyundai i20 WRC. However, following string of outstanding performances, including fourth place in Poland and a maiden podium at Rally d’Italia, team principle Michel Nadan granted the Kiwi an extended programme of twelve WRC events this season. Paddon was drafted into the Hyundai senior squad earlier this year at Rally Australia, where he replaced Dani Sordo. He is scheduled to do so again at the last round of the season in Great Britain, this time deputising for team-leader Thierry Neuville.
The youngster’s consistency and outright pace, particularly on his favoured surface of gravel, have helped him secure five top-five finishes so far this season and earned him plaudits from all quarters. He currently sits eighth in the 2015 driver’s championship with 66 points, two places above more experienced teammate Sordo.
On the signing of Paddon, Hyundai team principal Michel Nandan commented: “I am delighted that we have been able to extend our partnership with Hayden for a further three years and to have him compete in all rounds of the WRC with us. Since he joined the team early last year, he has proven to be a worthy addition to our young team. He is consistent, quick and determined and with even more potential for growth.”
“From the start of our WRC programme, we have wanted to support fresh, young talent and Hayden has shown just how successful this can be. I am personally looking forward to see what he can deliver over the next three years with Hyundai Motorsport.”
For his part, Paddon expressed his delight at securing a long term deal with the team who handed him his WRC debut back in 2014: “I am very excited to sign with Hyundai Motorsport for a further three years. The two seasons with Hyundai Motorsport have been an amazing journey and we have grown a lot. The team has helped me to develop and based on the rate that we have progressed together I have no doubt we will be winning soon.”
“We are all working and striving towards becoming World Champions and I firmly believe Hyundai Motorsport will offer me the best opportunity to achieve that goal. First and foremost, though, we must target our first rally victory and that is my personal target for 2016.”
Before then, Paddon and Kennard’s next assignment takes them to Catalonia for the penultimate event of the current season, Rally de España 2015. The action on the Costa Daurada gets underway this weekend.