New Zealand's World Rally Championship (WRC) driver Hayden Paddon will return to New Zealand next month for his second attempt at the Rally of Otago and an eye on helping the future of rallying.
The newly signed Hyundai driver in the WRC will be back behind the wheel of the BDA Escort that he last drove on the event two years ago.
Paddon has been in Germany preparing for his first WRC event with his new team Rally Italia Sardegna in June.
However, for one of only a handful of times in the last eight years, New Zealand's top rally driver will not have regular co-driver John Kennard in the opposite seat for the May 9 to 11 event.
Instead young, up-and-coming Kiwi co-driver Malcolm Read gets the nod to read the notes for Paddon in Otago and thus takes the first steps in a new partnership with Paddon and Kennard where he will be involved in their WRC campaign later in the year.
"Malcolm Read is stepping into the car with me for (the) Otago Rally as a way to begin working with the team in the longer term.
''Later in the year he will join us on WRC events to assist with our gravel notes and John has already taken Malcolm under his wing to start passing on his wealth of knowledge. Together, the team seeks to help Malcolm develop into a world class co-driver," Paddon said from his base in Frankfurt, Germany.
The 25-year-old from Hamilton has risen through the ranks of New Zealand rallying over the past few years after championship campaigns in New Zealand and the Asia Pacific, as well as some European events.
Read is understandably excited about the opportunity ahead of him and also comprehends the sheer volume of hard work needed to succeed in world rallying.
"This is a fantastic opportunity and it's amazing that both Hayden and John are willing to support my development in the sport.''Paddon is pleased to get his first competitive outing for the 2014 season. Paddon and Kennard took the overall victory in Rally Otago last year in the team's famed green Evo9 rally car.
"It's great to return to the classic rally field - I've competed in this just once before, in 2012, when John and I had a puncture which cost us seven minutes while leading the classic field," Paddon says.
"(It) will be a good chance to get back into the rhythm of rallying again as it's been over six months since our last event. Despite the car being quite different to what we will drive in Rally Sardegna a month later, every kilometre behind the wheel provides a good warm-up for doing reconnaissance, writing pace notes, the timing and speed of an event overall.
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