New Zealander Hayden Paddon is taking a fresh approach to the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship season as he and co-driver Brit Seb Marshall prepare to return to competition in the updated Hyundai i20 Coupe world rally car.
Hyundai Motorsport has announced that Paddon and Marshall will share the #6 Hyundai with team-mate Dani Sordo and the Spaniard’s new co-driver Carlos del Barrio, with Paddon contesting seven of the 13 rallies. Sordo will also contest seven rallies with the team running four cars in Portugal.
The Kiwi/Brit pairing get their 2018 season underway at the WRC’s only full-winter rally in Sweden in February. They then contest Portugal (May), Italy (June), Finland (July), Turkey (September), Great Britain (October) and Australia (November).
Following a refreshing break at home in New Zealand for the Christmas holidays, Paddon returned to Europe to join the team at the UK’s famed Autosport motorsport show.
He says: “I am treating the 2018 season almost like a fresh start after our difficulties from last year. I want to put that behind me and use the positives from our podium results to spur us on to achieve what I know we are capable of.
“We will make the most of all seven events this year; being gravel rallies, these are all events that are strong for us and we have good experience of – other than Turkey, which will be new for everyone.
“We have nothing to lose, so we will be going all out on these events to fight for podiums and get that edge back. Also by doing more events in second half of the year, it means we will also have an advantageous road position for most events.”
Paddon aims to keep his competitive edge by running an expanded New Zealand programme in his Hyundai New Zealand i20 AP4+ car.
Paddon would obviously prefer to be competing at all 13 WRC rallies this year. “I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t prefer to contest the full season, but I have to accept things like this and make the most of each opportunity we get throughout the year. Of course, we will do everything in our power to help the team towards their goal of winning the manufacturers’ title.
“My ultimate goal and target remains the same, but it will have to go on hold for this year. This year is about getting it all back on track and work towards the future.”