Hayden Paddon excited by his rally prospects

STU PIDDINGTON
Last updated 05:00 12/12/2013
Hayden Paddon
MYTCHALL BRANSGROVE/Fairfax NZ

POPULAR PADDON: Budding World Rally Championship competitor Hayden Paddon back in Timaru, saying thanks to fans and supporters. Among them were the Campbell brothers Bailey, 6, left, and Caleb, 8, at a promotional afternoon at Placemakers.

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The World Rally Championship appears to be beckoning in 2014 for New Zealand's top driver Hayden Paddon.

The unassuming 26-year-old is yet to announce his plans for next year but said they would definitely be focused on the WRC.

"I'm pretty excited but I can't say too much at the moment."

Paddon said to expect an announcement late next month or early February.

It will not be a full 13-round campaign but instead Paddon will focus on seven or eight events to extend his experience at the pinnacle of the sport.

"There are a couple of options for us which we are working through."

Paddon said it was tough at times being patient but he was quietly confident it would pay off.

"Usually about this time of year we are in a pickle about what is happening looking forward but that is not the case."

The first round starts in Monte Carlo on January 14 and Paddon said although he would not be driving he would be there for the reconnaissance, with co-driver John Kennard.

"It is also important to be there for exposure and we hope to base ourselves there a bit more in 2014."

Paddon said they would return regularly to New Zealand where their support base and financial backers were.

He got his first chance of running with the big boys in a WRC car at Rally Spain last year, after stepping up from the support class. He finished eighth in the Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team's Ford Fiesta.

That gave Paddon a taste of the dream he had harboured since he was 14, when he got behind the wheel of his father's rally car.

With the championship just over a month away, the past week has seen movements in the factory teams.

Kris Meeke and Mads Ostberg will compete for Citroen next year.

Meeke becomes the first British driver to race a full WRC season since Colin McRae and Richard Burns in 2003.

Ostberg competed with the Qatar M-Sport WRT this year and has already done 65 WRC rallies.

Australian Chris Atkinson has also been handed an early Christmas present with the announcement he will be part of Hyundai Motorsport next year.

Atkinson has been out of a fulltime drive since the end of 2008 and will share time in the car with Dani Sordo and Juho Hanninen, along with the team's lead driver, Thierry Neuville, for Hyundai's debut season.

Ford is the only team not to announce their lineup.

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- The Timaru Herald

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