New Zealand’s leading rally driver Hayden Paddon has been doing a lot of head scratching recently as he and his team work to secure a budget to return to the Production World Rally Championship (PWRC) in 2011.
Geraldine’s Paddon and co-driver John Kennard, from Blenheim, finished a highly respectable third place in their first attempt at the PWRC after finishing on the podium on five of the six events. This is the best result ever achieved by a New Zealand rally driver on the world stage. Now their aim is to return to the production car championship for 2011 with just one target in mind – to win.
“We’ve had a huge year of learning in 2010 which put us in a fantastic position to attack the championship next year,” says Paddon. “I know that I am a much better driver now – the range of things I’ve had the opportunity to learn about and perfect this year has been amazing and inspiring. I know – and this opinion is backed by some of the sport’s experts – that it is a very realistic goal to chase the championship title next year.”
Paddon has been offered a drive by one of the top teams to return to the PWRC, but admits that the budget needed to do this is proofing difficult to source.
We had been working on some plans for the 2011 WRC for several months which unfortunately fell over a couple of weeks ago. Since then we have been offered this opportunity with a leading PWRC team, but the budget to compete at this level is substantial.”
Paddon, with the management and logistical support of his family-based team, was planning to form a New Zealand world rally team to take on the 2011 World Rally Championship. The aim was to approach businesses that either trade with or have a significant interest in New Zealand. Similar to the concept used by the yachting team, Emirates Team New Zealand, Paddon is excited by the prospect of representing New Zealand at the pinnacle of rallying.
“I believe that we can go further in the sport towards my ultimate goal and winning the 2011 PWRC would be a step towards that. By also forming a New Zealand rally team it gives us a point of difference while also promoting the country of which I immensely proud of.”
A budget of $NZ 500,000 is expected to put together a full PWRC programme. Paddon admits this is a daunting figure, but also points out that the value that can be gained for investors has the potential to far exceed the initial sum invested.
“Yes, it is a lot of money, but when you see just how big the rallying is as a sport in some of the countries we visited this year you get a true understanding of the size and passion of the fans following this iconic form of motorsport. In countries like Finland and Germany, rallying is to them like rugby is to New Zealand.
“The WRC is where I want to be and, together with a group of people helping me, we are working really hard to stay there. We are just finding it very difficult at present to put together a family of sponsors that can make the most of a strong commercial relationship with a professional team like ours. We want to work with companies where exposure in countries like Sweden, Portugal, Argentina, Finland, Australia, Spain and Great Britain along with New Zealand can bring them the value they seek,” he concluded.
With the first round in the 2011 production championship scheduled for 10 to 13 February in Sweden Paddon knows he’s also battling a short deadline.
Paddon and his team welcome ideas and suggestions as they continue their quest to secure the necessary budget to fight for the title of 2011 Production World Rally Champion. Paddon can be contacted on 027 318 1748 or