Interview with Hayden Paddon

Hayden Paddon, one of the most talked names in the WRC, accepted our invitation and answered all our questions.

Q: Hello Hayden! First of all, I have to tell a huge thank you for the interview and of course for your time! To begin with, how would you describe the last season?

A: It has been a strange season - stepping back to do just half a WRC season took a little to adapt to but in the end we did the best job we could while playing the team game. It was nice to have some success also rallying in NZ to keep me fresh.

Q: Your contract with Hyundai expires at the end of 2018. Do you have any plans for the next season?

A: It is still work in progress. We want to stay with Hyundai MotorSport and have done everything we can to try and help this. Now we just have to play the waiting game and see what decision is made.

Q: I have a difficult question for you. Hyundai is thinking to have the same system as 2018 for 2019 with 4 drivers and 3 cars. You said recently that you are dedicated to Hyundai and I have to mention that M-Sport has only Teemu Suninen under contract. If Hyundai offers you a part-time programme and M-Sport also offers you a full-season programme for next year, what would you choose and why?

A: I am committed to Hyundai long term - Hyundai NZ have invested a lot in us and continue to support us 100%. We obviously would like to be doing a full season again but at the moment that’s not possible and will accept what we can get from Hyundai for the WRC. It’s not easy times but we are working as hard as we can. 

Q: John Kennard was your co-driver for many years. His departure in the middle of 2017 was difficult for you to deal with? Is he still helping you?

A: It was something we were working towards for a few years as he needed a hip replacement, it was a matter of trying to find the right time. It was always going to be difficult but we were working at the same. Time behind the scenes with Seb to make the transition seemless - which it was.

Q: We saw that Rally Australia was the last event for you and Seb. Which things will you keep from your cooperation with him?

A: We are good mates and will continue to do so. It was a shame to lose him but we ultimately couldn’t offer him a full season which he wanted. I wish him all the best with his new adventures and it was great working with him.

Q: Now, I would like to take you a little back in 2014 and to ask your feelings when Hyundai contacted with you. Had you ever imagined that would compete in WRC?

A: It was a dream come true and something we were working towards for many years. It was also a relieve as we had sacrificed so much and had the help of so many, it just made it all feel so much better. But with such an opportunity also come pressure. 

Q: We see you rallying a lot in New Zealand. Is it about being in touch with the roads, staying in shape, or do you want to support your home country's rallies?

A: It’s a bit of both - when you are doing limited rallies you need to keep driving as much as possible to stay fresh. So it keeps me competition fit. But I’m also a proud Kiwi and enjoy helping and doing what we can to help grow the sport in NZ, which is very strong here at the moment.

Q: Chile is a new race for WRC calendar. In addition, Kenya and Japan will return to WRC. Would you like New Zealand and Rally Acropolis to return to the WRC calendar soon?

A: Yes unfortunately there are limited slots for many rallies that could/should be on the calendar. It’s a commercial product now and the promoters/teams need to go to places of interest to the manufacturers. It’s difficult as true Rally fans we would love to see some of the old iconic events back, but without manufacturers there would be no sport, and it needs to go to places that is of interest commercially.

Q: As a professional rally driver, what advise will you give to a new rising rally driver who begins his first steps in the world of rallying?

A: It’s a long road and it takes a lot of hard work and patience. The biggest factor is to remember that through thick and thin, why you are doing it, and to enjoy it. It’s important to also have a good step by step plan in place to have clear goals and targets.

Q: Before closing our discussion, do you want to say something to your Greek supporters?

A: I know we have a lot of support from Greece and want to thank you all for your support and messages we receive. It means a lot. I hope to some day come and do some rallying in Greece.

Photo Credits: Hyundai

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