Hayden Paddon is back at M-Sport for WRC Rally GB and Australia
Hot news this morning from M-Sport's Davenby Hall base is that Kiwi rally star Hayden Paddon and long time co-driver John Kennard are back with the Cumbrian WRC squad.
In the early morning announcement it was confirmed that the pair are set to contest two FIA World Rally Championship events before the end of the year – first event being Wales Rally GB where they will be driving the all-new Ford Fiesta R5 MkII and then returning to the wheel of the M-Sport built Ford Fiesta WRC at Rally Australia.
“We are really excited to get back behind the wheel,” said Paddon. “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.”
As one of the sport’s most popular competitors, the rallying community were devastated when a stray rock during pre event testing in the Fiesta WRC put paid to Paddon’s Rally Finland ambitions.
“After what happened in the lead-up to Finland, it was clear that a lot of the fans were desperate to see Hayden back behind the wheel,” commented M-Sport team principal Richard Millener. “We gave him some thoughts and advice on what was needed to compete with us again, and within three weeks he was pretty much there!
Chasing success in the WRC2 Pro category, Paddon’s Wales Rally GB outing will act as the perfect means to get back into the swing of the WRC, whilst also giving M-Sport a benchmark for the evaluating the performance of M-Sport’s new Fiesta R5 MkII.
Having contested the British event on nine previous occasions, WRC winner Paddon knows the Welsh forests well – twice finishing on the support-category podium and securing his best result of fourth overall at the end of a strong and consistent 2016 season.
“The backing and budget he was able to secure has allowed us to offer him two events – one with the Ford Fiesta R5 at Wales Rally GB, and another with the Ford Fiesta WRC at Rally Australia,” added Millener. “As for Rally Australia I think it’s clear what he aims to do there, and it will be great to see him back battling the WRC regulars. He and John certainly have the potential to deliver two really strong performances, and I’m one of many who are excited to see what they can do.”