M-Sport Ford have revealed that Hayden Paddon will compete on Wales Rally GB in one of its Ford Fiesta R5’s and then in a Fiesta WRC on the season ending Rally Australia.
Paddon, a World Championship regular until this year had planned to contest Rally Finland with the team but a testing crash just days before the event left the Fiesta too badly damaged to be repaired in time for the New Zealand driver to compete.
But the Cumbrian team will run him and co-driver John Kennard first on next month’s Wales Rally GB in a Mk8 R5 in the WRC2 PRO class before he finally makes his return to top-level WRC competition on Rally Australia.
He said on the news: “We are really excited to get back behind the wheel. After the disappointment of Finland there was no way we could let that be the end of it and, together with M-Sport, we have worked hard to find some solutions. I really can’t thank everyone enough for their continued help and support; and a special thanks to HNZ who have again allowed this opportunity to happen.”
“I’m really looking forward to driving M-Sport’s new R5 on an event we are familiar with and will aim to showcase its capabilities. It’s also good to get more seat time which, combined with testing both the R5 and the WRC, is something we have been lacking this year. But getting back in the world rally car at Rally Australia will be the real highlight, and I can’t wait.”
He continued: “We’re not treating these rallies as a ‘last chance.’ We want to relax and enjoy the whole experience which will allow the results to come naturally. These are both rallies we know well and I feel I’m at a good level. There’s no reason we can’t deliver some strong results, but it’s important we don’t go chasing them – just let them come naturally.”
Paddon last competed in the WRC for Hyundai on the Australian event last season, with the Kiwi being dropped in favour of Dani Sordo and Sebastien Loeb who have both competed in part-time campaigns so far this year.