Kiwi rally star takes S2000 WRC step-up
Production Class World Rally Champion Hayden Paddon has announced he will contest the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship in 2012 driving a Skoda Fabia S2000 with the support of new sponsors and a new Spanish team.
After driving a Subaru WRX to the P-WRC title, the Kiwi driver is forging ahead with his international competition goals by climbing to the next rung on the ladder of world rallying. The Super 2000 World Rally Championship (SWRC) is the key feeder series for the main game, the FIA World Rally Championship.
“I am ecstatic about the move to Super 2000; it’s a fantastic opportunity,” said the 24-year-old.
“I was lucky enough to test the Skoda Fabia S2000 in Europe a couple of months ago and it was an incredible car to drive. The S2000 is a full blown race car and is basically a WRC car without the aero and turbo.”
Paddon’s car will be run by ASM Motorsport, based in Barcelona, and Paddon with long-time partner Katie Lane will move to the Spanish city.
“Several key personnel at ASM Motorsport have been involved with Skoda and Seat world rally teams in the past and they are very enthusiastic and passionate about this project. The target for the whole team is to win the championship,” said Paddon.
One factor in the team’s decision to move to the S2000 Fabia is related to the fact that Skoda’s parent company Volkswagen has confirmed its entry into the WRC in 2013. VW management signed star French driver Sebastién Ogier last month, confirming Ogier will compete in all rounds of the 2012 WRC in a similar Skoda S2000 car to the one Paddon will drive and thus providing an outstanding benchmark for all SWRC competitors.
“Sebastién is one of the fastest drivers in the WRC at present and having the chance to compete with him will be an honour but also a challenge,” said Paddon.
“It will help us to lift to another level and while he will be hard to beat, he certainly gives us a good target to aim for.”
Paddon’s decision to drive a Skoda was also influenced by a new relationship with one of New Zealand’s largest motor vehicle importers and retailers, the Giltrap Group which is the distributor for Skoda in New Zealand.
The Kiwi also confirmed a personal sponsorship with PlaceMakers New Zealand, the building supplies company which was a key supporter of his 2011 rallying.
Paddon’s goal is to win the SWRC title in 2012. SWRC competitors are required to contest seven of eight selected World Rally Championship events. Paddon has elected to drive the S2000 Skoda in Rally Sweden, Rally Portugal, Rally New Zealand, Rally Finland, Wales Rally GB, Rally France and Rally Spain, dropping the year’s first SWRC event, Rally Monte Carlo.
“With Monte Carlo taking place in January, we have given ourselves a little more time to prepare for the next SWRC event, Sweden, which runs from 10 to 12 February,” said Paddon.
“It is also going to be special to have the chance to do Rally New Zealand as one of our rounds and bring our new car home for our supporters to see.”