Hyundai World Rally Championship star Hayden Paddon has launched a new rally car and team in an effort to boost rallying's popularity in his native New Zealand.
The Kiwi will drive the new Hyundai New Zealand Rally Team car on the Rally of Otago, a New Zealand Rally Championship round and this year's Asia Pacific Rally Championship opener, the International Rally of Whangarei.
The i20 AP4 was launched in New Zealand overnight and runs a 1800cc turbocharged engine mated to four-wheel drive transmission, with the look completed by using i20 WRC body panels.
"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," Paddon said.
"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 [Kennard, co-driver] and I to, once again, enjoy two of the best rally events and rally roads in the world."
The car is built to AP4 regulations specific to the Asia Pacific region, by New Zealand firm Force Motorsport.
Another vital aspect of the Hyundai New Zealand Rally Team will be the involvement of students from Hyundai's Pinnacle Programme, a mentoring programme for teenagers aged between 15 and 18 headed by netball great Bernice Mene.
"This project is much bigger than John and I," said Paddon. "This is an opportunity to boost New Zealand rallying by introducing new people to the sport."
The 28-year-old South Islander also launched the Paddon Foundation earlier this year, aimed at helping NZ competitors and clubs develop motorsport further in his home country.
Paddon and Kennard also remain at the heart of New Zealand's plans to return the WRC to the North Island in the coming seasons.