Hayden Paddon writes about Hyundai NZ’s latest announcement…..
Today I am proud to announce along with Hyundai NZ an exciting new chapter for NZ rallying. Not only have we launched the new Hyundai i20 AP4 rally car and the newly formed Hyundai New Zealand Rally Team, but we have also opened the doors for more opportunities for others.
Firstly I’m excited that John and I will use this car for the upcoming Rally Otago and Whangarei – two of my favorite rally’s in the world. From the outside it may look like a WRC car (we have used all the body panels from the 2015 WRC car) but under the skin it has been built to new AP4 regulations – new rules that have been launched to try and encourage new car builds for regional rallying, with looser rules and lower budgets. While this i20 AP4 does not fully conform to all the regulations (the engine and aero being the biggest differences) the chassis and idea is 100% AP4. With the aging Group N cars on the way out, I feel this is a way forward for NZ and Australian rallying, with the chassis being able to be adapted to most small hot hatch cars. This means the possibility of more manufacturer involvement, cars that align to the modern WRC look and cars that will promote more exciting driving. In the long term this will be a win for everyone involved – in the meantime more development and work is needed.
Secondly, it has always been one of my personal objectives to help the sport that I love, and has helped me so much. Earlier this year we launched the new Paddon Foundation, which will be fully up and running in the first quarter of 2017 to directly help competitors and clubs financially and tutorially. This is a project I’m very passionate about. But combined with this new Hyundai project, and the existing Hyundai Pinnacle programme that helps young Kiwis in arts, sport, education or business, means we have a platform to help more than just competitors. The Pinnacle programme will introduce Wintec students at each of the NZ rally’s this year where they will be incorporated into our team to learn the ropes and get excited about rallying. Long term, we will look to have other driver and co-drivers behind the wheel of this Hyundai.
The man behind this car and two others that he has built, Andrew Hawkeswood and his team from Force Motorsport has been instrumental in helping put this car together. We are working closely with Andrew to develop the cars and help turn them into rally winning cars in the future. Its also exciting to have our old team back together on the NZ rally’s – team green is now team blue!
So despite the big gap between Mexico and Argentina we now have a busy couple of weeks before Otago with testing and final preparation. Otago has also attracted a huge entry this year – with over 100 entries including Marko Martin driving in the classic field. Rallying is on the up in NZ, and if we can continue this growth combined with some of the projects above, it only helps with the ultimate goal – to get Rally New Zealand back!
Look forward to seeing some of you at Rally Otago in 2 weeks time.