Hyundai Motorsport’s decision to engage Irishman Craig Breen as their third driver for World Rally Championship Rally Finland in August, instead of Hayden Paddon, may have been a good decision but maybe not the right one. Instead it may prove a costly error.
Paddon will now pilot a third M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Fiesta and will be eligible to score manufacturer points for the Cumbrian squad. Breen has stated that his job at Rally Finland is ‘to chase points for the manufacturers’ championship. With Paddon in ‘the mix’ with Ford, it now dilutes Hyundai’s chances of gaining vital manufacturers’ points.
In not engaging the former Hyundai driver, Hyundai Motorsport has effectively released Paddon to pursue other options. It has ignited a fire within Paddon, a burning desire (called motivation) to do well and it will now be for another manufacturer. Hyundai Motorsport may have mis-calculated in their decision to take on Breen.
“We expected Sordo to be in the car (for Finland), not Craig,” Paddon commented to Talkmotorsport. “It just doesn’t make sense. After the Hyundai (Motorsport) decision, we looked at what other opportunities were about.
“M-Sport weren’t planning on running another car (at Finland) so it is more logistics for them.
“While we haven’t driven this year’s Fiesta WRC car, ultimately all cars are built under the same regulations. We have a one-day test so we will learn what it can and can’t do. Let’s remember, that M-Sport have won the last two manufacturers titles so we have full confidence in them, the car and their technicians.
“A big factor (for us) was Hyundai NZ. They were as surprised as us. They want us to succeed, and encouraged us to try another brand This ultimately influenced our decision.
“Finland has been a good option. We are halfway through the WRC season so there aren’t a lot of options for us (event wise). There is nothing to gain from competing at WRC Rally Australia as it would be considered a home rally and we would be expected to do well.”
Preparation is well underway for Rally Finland. Paddon will spend two days with M-Sport before heading to Italy and more training with Formula Medicine. He will not take part in the next Global Rallycross Challenge round in the UK which takes place the weekend before Finland.
Results will ultimately tell if Hyundai Motorsport made the best decision. At the moment they have taken an calculated gamble with Breen.