||2007, Great Britain
||Hyundai Motorsport N
Here’s what makes him special:
•He’s determined to make it in the WRC. As a teenager he funded his rallying by squeezing in a 5am paper round, a shift in a fish and chip shop and a job selling motorbike spares around his school work
•2014 could be Paddon’s year. A seven-round programme with Hyundai is his best chance yet to shine on the world stage
•He is the first New Zealand driver to secure a professional contract to compete in the World Rally Championship
•His PWRC title in 2011 made Paddon the first Australasian driver to win an FIA world rally title
The story so far
Like many professional drivers, Paddon’s career began in karts. Racing from the age of six, he sold his kart when he was 13 to buy a grass-track Mini. Supported by his father Chris, a club rally driver, he enjoyed success in Motorkhana in the Mini and rally sprints as co-driver to his father in a Toyota Levin.
Paddon’s first rally as a driver came in 2002 when he was 15. Driving his father’s Toyota fitted with learner plates, he finished fourth in class. Two seasons in the South Island Rally Championship followed, before a step up to a four-wheel drive Mitsubishi in 2005 and the New Zealand Junior and Rookie titles in 2006. He won the championship outright in 2008.
Paddon’s international ambitions were given a boost in 2009 when he won a Pirelli Star Driver scholarship to tackle the 2010 PWRC. He finished third that year, but a self-funded return in 2011 was more successful, and Paddon became the first Australasian winner of an FIA world rally title.
He returned in 2012 at the wheel of a Skoda S2000 and won three rounds, but was unable to hold on to the title. With funds low, Paddon managed just three WRC2 rallies in 2013 before rounding off his season with eighth place at Rally Spain on his first event in a World Rally Car.