Hayden Paddon says he won’t know the full extent of his 2019 rally program until later in January, but already there are positive signs for New Zealand’s favourite driver.
Paddon this week confirmed his entry into April’s Otago Rally, driving the Hyundai i20 AP4+ that he won last year’s New Zealand Rally Championship in.
In a further boost for NZ rallying, Paddon has signed on as the naming rights sponsor for the Otago Classic Rally, via his Winmax Brakes by Paddon Rallysport brand.
Despite losing his seat with the Hyundai World Rally Team for the 2019 World Rally Championship season – to none other than nine-time World Champion Sebastien Loeb – it’s a clear indication that Paddon is going nowhere, and is planning for the future.
That future could also include entering the Rally of Whangarei, three weeks after Otago, the two NZ events that make up part of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC).
From there, one or two events in Australia could follow, before the final ‘shoot-out’ in India in December.
It would seem to be a natural progression for Paddon’s locally based team, which is expected to expand this year.
With strong backing from Hyundai New Zealand, they have already dominated the NZRC, and while an APRC win may not be all that beneficial for Hyundai NZ, it would be a nice addition to Paddon’s resume.
For a driver still hell-bent on returning to the WRC, 2019 will be about getting as much seat time as possible, and the APRC would be an achievable target.