In an bid to showcase his potential to team bosses, Paddon, 26, has secured a one-off outing in a works-spec Ford Fiesta RS WRC run by the Qatar M-Sport team for the Spanish round of the championship, which starts on 24 October.
Paddon, the 2011 FIA Production Car World Rally Champion, has driven a Skoda Fabia S2000 on three rounds of the WRC 2 championship this year, finishing on the podium in Finland and Germany alongside co-driver John Kennard.
He was one of the favourites to win his most recent outing on Rally Australia but retired on the opening day with an electrical problem. He re-joined determined to prove his pace, and did this by going fastest on all but one of the remaining stages.
“Ultimately we do want to be in a WRC car next year and with this one-off chance we need to show we can be fast in a WRC car as well to try and open those doors,” said Paddon.
“John and I are looking forward to it very much and we’ll be working very hard to make sure we can make the most of the opportunity. It’s very exciting but, at the same time, also a lot of pressure to make something good of it,” he added.
October is already proving to be a successful month for Paddon, who won his third New Zealand Rally Championship title on the fifth, with victory on the final round Rally Wairarapa.
“We achieved our objectives by winning the New Zealand Rally Championship. It is a great confidence booster as we now prepare for Spain and one of the biggest opportunities we have had to date,” he said.
Paddon will test the Ford Fiesta RS WRC on asphalt the Monday before Rally Spain. “There will be just one test of around 50 to 70 kilometres, and I’m sure that’s enough time to accustom ourselves to it. The chassis and feeling of it will be very similar to what we know from our S2000 cars so it’s more a matter of getting used to the power and exact tractability of the car,” he said.
“The goals for the Spanish rally are straightforward: we need to finish, make sure we get as much time behind the wheel as possible and will target key stages to try and show glimpses of speed. We’ll be working hard, doing intensive homework of the Spanish event, physical training and some testing with M-sport to make the most of this opportunity,” he added.