Hyundai Motorsport’s Hayden Paddon will be promoted to the Korean manufacturer’s senior squad for round 10 of the 2015 WRC season in Australia, team bosses have confirmed. The 28 year-old starlet currently pilots the #20 car for Hyundai’s development ‘N’ squad but will switch seats with senior teammate Dani Sordo for the gravel-based event next month.
Team Principle Michel Nandan’s decision to shuffle the pack comes as a slight surprise, however the temporary switch of personnel does have the hallmarks of a sensible move. With five rounds left of the current season, Hyundai find themselves locked in a tight battle in the Manufacturers’ Championship. Just two points separate Nandan’s outfit, currently third overall, from second-place Citroën in the standings and Rally Australia would seem to present the perfect opportunity for the i20 boys to reel in their French rivals.
Key to Nandan’s masterplan is Kiwi star Paddon. Still in only his first full season in WRC, the New Zealander’s recent stellar performances in Italy and Poland have turned more than a few heads in the service park. This red-hot form combined with his expert knowledge of the gravel roads Down Under makes him the ideal candidate to step up to the plate and score some serious championship points for Hyundai’s senior team.
Sordo, the man whose seat Paddon will be keeping warm in Australia, remains very much part of Nandan’s plans. Before the WRC bandwagon jets off to the other side of the world, the action shifts to Germany for round 9 of the season. As an asphalt specialist, Sordo will continue to partner team leader Thierry Neuville on the roads of Rallye Deutschland, the scene of his one and only WRC victory to date. Nandan has also guaranteed that the experienced Spaniard will be restored to his familiar role for round 11 in France whatever the result in Australia. However, with young Paddon ripping up the form books, Sordo’s long term future at Hyundai looks less than certain.
WRC is back at Rallye Deuschland from 20-23 August before focus shifts to Coffs Harbour in Australia for round 10 on 10 September.