Hayden Paddon recently drove a Hyundai Kona EV at the Waimate 50 Motorsport Festival.
Hayden Paddon could end up in one of the best cars in the world at Rally New Zealand next year.
The country’s rally is back on the 2022 World Rally Championship calendar, from September 29 to October 2, for the first time since 2012, but New Zealand’s best-known driver Paddon is no longer a WRC driver full-time since 2018..
However, Jari-Matti Latvala, former Rally New Zealand winner and now team manager at Toyota Gazoo Racing, told Stuff that a rental car may be available.
“We said for the first six months of the championship we can only go with the four cars,” said Latvala.
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“It’s already a big task to have four cars in Monte-Carlo (in January). But we looked to have an option next year with our second team, Next Generation Gazoo Racing, to have a second car in this team.
“We haven’t decided anything with this, but we have an option in the second half of the season, that we could have a second car. At this point, I can’t say more.
When asked how the team would decide who would drive in the extra car, Latvala said she would be hired.
Having Paddon in a competition car would be huge for the event and increase rally coverage in New Zealand.
But Latvala, who has won 18 WRC rallies, warned that it would not be easy for Paddon to compete in a WRC event again after a three-year absence.
The Geraldine-born driver tried to return to the WRC in 2019, but suffered appalling twice as he drove for M-Sport Ford on a short-term contract.
At Rally Finland, he hit a stone placed on the road during practice, which destroyed his car. He then planned to participate in Rally Australia, but the event was canceled due to the bushfires.
“I know Hayden pretty well, we raced together and he was a very fast driver.
He won Rally Argentina in 2016, ”said Latvala.
“I have to say he hasn’t had any luck with the rallies he was planning to do.
“In Coffs Harbor there was a bushfire and at Rally Finland there was an accident before the race.
“When I finished my career in 2019, I did Rally Sweden in 2020, but after that I didn’t drive in the World Rally Championship.
“The point is that when you’re not doing rallies, of course you never lose skills, but I would say you lose the routine and that little touch that you need to feel the grip and push the car to its limits. limits.
“The longer you’re away the harder it gets and if you’re trying to come back after a long break you really need some good testing beforehand.
“You have to be able to test for at least two days, but I would say four days really to get speed.
“With the short practice it’s really hard to come back, but it’s possible and the preparation has to be really good.
“If Hayden is competing in Rally New Zealand the testing is really important so he’s back in speed and confident.