Hayden Paddon will make a one-off return to the FIA World Rally Championship by driving the third M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC on Rally Finland.
Paddon will enter the ninth round of the championship alongside long-term co-driver John Kennard in his first appearance since Rally Australia last season with the team that gave the Kiwi his first WRC entry back in 2013.
The deal will also see Paddon eligible to score manufacturer points for the Cumbrian based team on what will be his 80th WRC start and his tenth on Rally Finland.
Talking about the deal, Paddon said: “Both John and I are very excited to be back – especially as it has been so hard to watch from the side-lines. M-Sport have been so welcoming even in the short period since this deal has been put together which gives me great confidence that we will be able to work together to achieve a great result on one of my favourite events on the calendar.
“Huge thanks also to our long-term partner Hyundai NZ who have allowed us to take the opportunity and encouraged us. We are lucky to have the support that we do from New Zealand and abroad.”
While M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Principal Richard Millener added: “It’s great to see Hayden back in the FIA World Rally Championship, and we’re all excited to see what he can do behind the wheel of the Fiesta. He’s a proven rally winner, and it’s great for us to have a driver of his calibre as we set our sights on another strong performance.”
“The deal came together pretty quick, so it’s great that we were able to do something at short notice. Hayden is extremely determined and has the potential to deliver a really exciting performance. Like every rally fan, I’m looking forward to seeing him and John back in the championship!”
After making his WRC debut in 2013, Paddon went on to drive for the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team from the beginning of the following year until the end of 2018 where he took a total of eight podium finishes and a victory on Rally Argentina in 2016.
The duo will also take part in a one-day test in preparation for Rally Finland, with the ninth round of the 2019 WRC taking place between August 1-4.