Current New Zealand Rally Champion Hayden Paddon has this week confirmed an extended 2009 rally campaign. The extensive 12 rally programme will include heading off shore to compete in six rounds of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship, as well as the defence of their New Zealand title.
“This is massive for my career and almost like a full-time drive. There’s nothing better I can think of than to be rally driving as a job and this is a big step towards that”, explained an enthusiastic Hayden. After winning last year’s New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) at age twenty one, Paddon this year aims to further develop his driving skills in different terrains and conditions.
“On paper we’ve achieved all we can here in New Zealand, although the roads are fantastic for perfecting a fully committed driving style, something I still have work to do on. But as we found in Malaysia last season, when we crashed out in atrocious conditions, rallying is also about managing your speed so you make the finish. It’s a fine line between speed and being too careful, so there’s no better way to learn about it than to put it into practice.”
The team’s programme will include returning to defend their New Zealand crown, which will include five rallies throughout the country, plus the non-championship Rally New Zealand. While the team have committed to the six round Asia Pacific Championship, including rounds in New Caledonia, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Indonesia and China, they have yet to put the funds in place to participate in both Japan and Indonesia. To cap what will be a busy but exciting year, the team will also use the reborn WRC Rally Australia as another chance to compare themselves to the world’s best.
The Asia Pacific Rally Championship is one of six international rally championships sanctioned by world motor sport’s governing body, the FIA, and has been a stepping stone in the careers of drivers such as Australian WRC regular Chris Atkinson and the late, great kiwi Possum Bourne, so is a path Hayden also aspires to.
During the off-season the team have rebuilt both their championship winning left-hand drive Mitsubishi Evo 9 and the Evo 8 used in their 2007 campaign. They will start the Asia Pacific Championship driving the older car, while they hit the ground running here in New Zealand with the well sorted later model.
“The goal this year is to be as fast as possible here in New Zealand, winning as many stages and rallies as we can. However for our international programme we have to keep in mind that these are new events and the main objective is to gain as much experience as possible. While the aim on every event we compete is to win, it may on occasion be a matter of pulling it back a notch and driving at a level that ensures we get as many valuable kilometres as possible. This is reflected in our choice of cars to start the season with, but later in the year they may be swapped around.”
Team Green has also confirmed that Marlborough based co-driver John Kennard will partner Hayden for a fourth season, continuing what has proved to be a valuable relationship. The rest of the successful team remains unchanged too, with the loyal group of team members and supporters all firmly behind the expanded programme. “It’s going to be a full on year for our whole team. We are preparing, running and organising a team with two cars competing around the globe, which puts a strain on time and finances, but these are areas we will continue to build on as the year progresses.
” Five weeks out from the first NZRC round, Rally Hawkes Bay, the team have already confirmed 13 sponsors who will partner their campaign, all as excited about the year ahead as the team. “Paddon Direct, EDL Fasteners, Teng Tools, FMG, Timaru Signs, Pope Print, Vicarage Lane Wines, Castrol, Resene, Bluebridge Ferries and In-Tune Automotive are all back as part of the team for the new season, plus we are fortunate to have enlisted the support of automotive and transport lighting innovator Hella New Zealand and motor sport travel specialists Rally Tours New Zealand.”
“In these difficult economic times it is reassuring that both our existing and new partners see good value in being with us and have faith in the team and myself.” Hayden and the team start testing over the next two weeks and are confident of extracting more speed from both cars, especially in differential and suspension development, areas that have not been able to be fully explored in previous seasons.
Team Manager Chris Paddon is also excited about the year ahead, having confirmed the formation of a new company, Hayden Paddon Global, set up to promote Hayden’s career in the World Rally Championship. “Hayden Paddon Global has been established as an investment opportunity for anyone, much the same as those put in place to assist the careers of both Scott Dixon and Brendon Hartley”, explained Chris. “We are all confident Hayden can achieve his goals and aspirations to become a World Rally Champion, so this investment is another way for people to live the dream of the World Rally Championship with him. We expect big things to happen over the coming years”.
For now though Hayden and Team Green are focused on the year ahead, putting their plans in place and achieving their goals. It promises to be an exciting and dynamic ride that you will not want to miss. Keep up to date at the Team Green website, www.hayden-paddon.com. For more information contact Hayden, firstname.lastname@example.org www.hayden-paddon.com 027 318 1748