Paddon's full WRC2 campaign for 2023 in question mark

Hayden Paddon says that his plan to compete with a full programme in WRC2 class next year is in doubt and considering of participating in European Rally Championship while he reveals that there was no contact between him and Hyundai for a Rally1 seat in 2023.

The Kiwi driver took part in three events of this year's WRC2 championship from which he won his home event and finished at the lowest place of the podium in Finland while he retired in Estonia. He had the support of Hyundai New Zealand for his plan to do three outings in WRC2 class in 2022 and it must be mentioned that he is very loyal to the Korean brand as he developed an electrified Kona with his team for rallying and is driving Hyundai cars for years.

Although it was rumored that Paddon might join Hyundai Motorsport in 2023, this was not happened as the Alzenau-based team announced Esapekka Lappi, Dani Sordo and Craig Breen as Thierry Neuville's teammates. However, the team has yet to confirm its drivers for WRC2 Championship, but it is suspected that Teemu Suninen will renew his deal with them and will continue driving a i20N Rally2.

"We’re still in the planning stages", Paddon said when asked if a WRC2 title push remained the plan.

"Sure, 100% we’ll be in Europe next year doing something in some shape or form. 

"The reality is WRC2 budget wise was more than what we expected this year, even for the limited program we did.

"And there’s a few obstacles there that make it pretty hard for a small team like us to do it, so we haven’t entirely ruled it out, but we are looking at other options as well.

"The main thing is that we’re doing regular rallies in Europe and that we’re competitive, they’re the two main factors. 

"And the problem is if you go to WRC2 on a limited budget, you’re on a hiding to nothing and that’s what we learned this year.

"This year the budget was about 30% higher than what we expected and that was with no damage and pretty much missing a rally through COVID-19 with Estonia as well.

"As I said, to give it a decent go you need to have a good test program, you need to have a good spares package, you need to be able to go into the rallies in a relaxed mindset that you don’t have to worry about the finances if you like.

"As soon as things are really tight, really stretched and you’re trying to save every cent you can, you’re on a hiding to nothing and you’ve got to work so hard to find the money in the first place.

"It’s the same as any business decision, you’ve got to find the best value for money at the end of the day.

"We’re looking at maybe some ERC stuff and maybe some WRC2 stuff. 

"It’s all just still in the planning stages at the moment.

"Maybe ERC could be a championship we target equally as much as a WRC2 championship.

"We just have to weigh up the pros and cons of both and what we can realistically achieve.

Finally, he said about the rumors of his joining Hyundai Motorsport in 2023: "I put up our hand saying of course we’re interested, I knew we were a long shot but there was never any interest from the other side.

"At the end of the day I understand that’s how it is, but it would be nice to get a little bit more support one day given how loyal we’ve been to the brand.

"We pretty much sacrificed our WRC career a few years ago to continue our loyalty to the brand and Hyundai New Zealand’s been very good to us, but globally that loyalty feels like it means nothing".


Photo Credits: Hyundai

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