Hayden Paddon will contest two rounds of the New Zealand Rally Championship as part of a new domestic program launched by Hyundai New Zealand.
The factory Hyundai World Rally Championship driver will tackle Rally Otago, (April 8-10) and the International Rally of Whangarei (April 29- May 1) in a 1.8 litre turbo charged Hyundai i20, run under the banner of Hyundai New Zealand Rally Team.
Paddon and co-driver John Kennard will pilot an all-wheel-drive i20 built to the new AP4 (Asia Pacific) regulations, which has been developed by well-known rally driver and fabricator Andrew Hawkeswood of Force Motorsport.
“I’m very excited to be part of this programme with Hyundai New Zealand as we enter a new phase of our partnership to bring our rally exploits back to New Zealand and to introduce Hyundai New Zealand to the NZRC,” said Paddon.
“Together, we are all working to provide more opportunities for people in New Zealand rallying and this new car will form a major part of this project, while also allowing John and I to, once again, enjoy two of the best rally events and rally roads in the world.
“Otago and Whangarei are my two favourite rallies in the world. It’s also exciting to be debuting the new AP4 Hyundai chassis along Force Motorsport’s two other AP4 cars.
“The car is still early in development, but has a lot of potential and we look forward to working closely with Force to help develop it into a rally-winning car.
“Like any new formula, it will take a little longer for this car to catch on, but I believe that value for money is the key with this sort of car.
“While not at the same level, it has the same design principles and look of a WRC car.”
The Hyundai New Zealand Rally Team also aims to widen rallying’s appeal to a new audience with the involvement of participants from the the Pinnacle Programme, a mentoring programme for talented, passionate teenagers aged 15-18.
“This project is much bigger than John and I,” added Paddon.
“This is an opportunity to boost New Zealand rallying by introducing new people to the sport in conjunction with the Hyundai New Zealand-backed Pinnacle programme.”