This is it, the big chance. Hyundai Motorsport has signed a three year contract with one of the brightest new stars in the WRC roster. Hayden Paddon stormed the WRC this year, not only with his speed and the ability to learn and adapt, but also with his attitude towards not only driving but also media, fans and sport in general. His is a very serious, careful and thought-out approach, as much as it’s possible in this challenging sport. For sure, he’s just about to start learning things “for real”, because he is set to compete in all events next year, “alongside Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo”, as Hyundai’s release reveals. There were some impressive results and outings for Hayden and his co-driver John Kennard this year, but they’re still very much a work-in-progress. We’ve heard it from the man himself on more than one occasion this year; car behaves funny, tyres do not work as expected, finding the good rhythm not easy in some terrains, etc. Much of this probably can be attributed to the current car, but nonetheless, this crew is in for some more learning next year. A three year contract is a wonderful thing, it puts them in a very different position compared to this year – they will be able to focus more on driving and development, knowing their future is safe, but at the same time, contract means additional responsibilities and brings in a whole new set of expectations. Let’s see how they cope!
In the meantime, we still do NOT know how the available spots and cars will be “distributed” next year, but it’s good to hear Hayden, Thierry and Dani are set to do all rounds of the Championship. Whether there really was any drama in the team recently or not, I hope they can overcome it because next year there will be no more room for excuses. None.
Read Hyunydai’s official press release right after this.
Hyundai Motorsport confirms three-year contract with Hayden Paddon from 2016
Hyundai Motorsport has today announced it has signed a new three-year contract with Hayden Paddon that will see the popular New Zealander contest all rounds of the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) with the team from 2016.
Paddon, who initially joined Hyundai Motorsport for a six-rally campaign in 2014 and has been running an expanded programme of twelve WRC events this season, will step up to a full time role from Rallye Monte-Carlo in January alongside his co-driver John Kennard.
The 28-year-old was identified as a rising star in the rally world early in Hyundai Motorsport’s WRC programme with Hyundai recognising its responsibility as a manufacturer to support champions of the future.
Having made his debut as a Hyundai Motorsport driver at Rally d’Italia Sardegna in June 2014, at the same event twelve months later Paddon led a WRC event for the first time and claimed his maiden WRC podium.
The Kiwi has demonstrated utmost professionalism in all events with the team and proven to be a well-rounded, consistent and competitive World Rally driver. Most impressively, he has also shown a significant rate of progression from each rally to the next, and has five top-five results to his name so far this season.
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.”
Paddon said: “I am very excited to sign with Hyundai Motorsport for a further three years. The past two seasons 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.”