Former Hyundai WRC driver Paddon seals two-year WRC2 deal

Former factory Hyundai driver Hayden Paddon will return to the World Rally Championship after securing a two-year deal to compete in WRC2. 

Former Hyundai WRC driver Paddon seals two-year WRC2 deal

The New Zealander will pilot a Hyundai i20 N Rally 2 car, backed by Hyundai New Zealand, in selected events this year before contesting a full season in 2023. 

Paddon announced he will reunite with long-time co-driver John Kennard for the programme, a rekindling of a partnership that claimed victory at Rally Argentina when competing as a factory Hyundai driver in 2016.

The 34-year-old is set to make his first WRC appearance this year at Rally Estonia (14-17 July) followed by an outing in Finland (4-7 August), before contesting his home event Rally New Zealand (30 September - 2 October), which returns to the WRC calendar this year.  

“We are delighted to work with Hyundai New Zealand as we embark on a two-year WRC2 campaign with the new Hyundai i20 N Rally2 car,” said Paddon.

“This year we have planned a campaign which allows us to get up to speed with the awesome i20 N Rally2 car, the car’s development and team development, before undertaking a full seven-round campaign in 2023 with the sole goal of winning that championship title.

“We’re so proud to be taking a Kiwi team to these offshore events, along with some support in Europe and backed by an incredible line-up of New Zealand companies including Hyundai New Zealand to make this unique campaign possible.”

Hayden Paddon, Sebastian Marshall, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport

Hayden Paddon, Sebastian Marshall, Hyundai i20 WRC, Hyundai Motorsport

Photo by: Austral

Paddon’s last appearance in the WRC came in 2019 when he drove a M-Sport WRC2 Fiesta at Wales Rally GB. This was set to be the prelude for a return to the WRC’s top tier in a Hyundai i20 WRC before the outbreak of COVID-19 scuppered his plans.

Since a five-year spell as a Hyundai factory driver came to end in 2018, Paddon has remained closely associated with the marque in the New Zealand that has has seen his own Paddon Rallysport team undertake a series of local projects. This has included developing an all-electric Hyundai Kona rally car. 

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