Hyundai’s new signing Hayden Paddon plans to use his deal with the Korean manufacturer to build a career in the WRC.
The 26-year-old Kiwi has struggled to find the financial backing to break into the top level. However, he was handed a golden opportunity earlier this week when Hyundai confirmed him for seven rounds this season in its i20 World Rally Car.
His programme starts at Rally Italia Sardegna in June and Paddon, who won the PWRC world title in 2011, intends to make the most of his chance.
“This is the culmination of 18 years of work, with a lot of sweat and tears and a lot of support from New Zealanders to help make this possible,” he said.
“Now we have to take this massive opportunity with both hands, maximise the potential learning and results from our seven events in the Hyundai i20 World Rally Car and build our career in the WRC.”
Paddon will contest rounds in Italy, Poland, Finland, Australia and Britain along with two more from Germany, France and Spain.
“This is what we have worked so hard for, and it will allow us to step up another level with a good programme, a good team and a good testing and development programme. From Italy onwards, we will contest all but one of the events until the end of the season,” he said.
Paddon’s World Rally Car experience is limited to just last year’s Rally de Espana and he acknowledges there is much learning to be done by both himself and the team, which joined the WRC at the start of this season.
“To begin, our targets will be to simply learn, particularly as our first event in Italy is not a rally we have before done. It is also vital for the team to get as many miles and data as possible for the continued development of the car.
“As the season progresses we will certainly be measuring and hopefully matching some of our team-mates. But it’s also important to work hard with the team to learn, develop and grow with them,” added Paddon.