Local NZ rally events boost Paddon’s partial 2018 WRC schedule

Autosport

Hayden Paddon will contest five national rallies at home in New Zealand to stay sharp in gaps in his seven-round World Rally Championship programme with Hyundai.

Paddon is sharing Hyundai’s third i20 Coupe WRC with Dani Sordo this season while Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen contest every round.

“I’m not going to pretend I don’t want to be doing the whole championship,” said Paddon.

“Of course I do, that’s what every driver wants. But that’s not happening this year, so I have to accept it and make the best out of every opportunity I get.

“What’s really important is that I get seat time and I’m out driving in the gaps between rounds of the world championship.”

He will use the AP4+ version of the Hyundai i20, developed for the AP4 regulations used as an R5 equivalent in Asia Pacific events, for his five rallies in New Zealand.

“That’ll help keep me sharp,” Paddon added. “It’s not ideal, but it’s driving and that’s what I need.

“I’m scheduled for a day of testing before each WRC round, so it’s vital to stay sharp.”

The longest gap in Paddon’s programme is a three-month absence between his first WRC appearance of 2018 in Sweden next month and his second outing in Portugal in May.

“On the positive side, I should have a good road position when it comes to Portugal, so we’ll have to make the most of that,” he added.

Portugal is the only rally where Hyundai is planning to run all four drivers.

After that, Paddon will contest Italy, Finland, Turkey, GB and Australia.

Sordo’s programme comprises Monte Carlo, Mexico, Corsica, Argentina, Germany and Spain as well as Portugal.

Team principal Michel Nandan said Paddon and Sordo had largely been allowed to select which rallies they would each enter.

“When you have a driver like Dani, if you want a big chance for the manufacturers’ championship, we know it’s better to have him on the Tarmac rallies,” Nandan explained.

“After that, as much as we could, we let them do the events they wanted.”

Local NZ rally events boost Paddon’s partial 2018 WRC schedule

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