Milestone first NZ rally manufacturers’ title for Hyundai NZ

Hayden Paddon’s victory in a Hyundai i20 AP4+ car in the one-day Hyundai New Zealand Raglan Rally of the Coast on Saturday 13 October created rallying history for his major backer Hyundai New Zealand. Hyundai becomes the third-ever vehicle marque to win the New Zealand Rally Championship’s manufacturers’ title.

Paddon made the win look easy with a winning margin of nearly five and a half minutes, having set the fastest stage times on all eight special stages of the one-day Hyundai NZ Raglan Rally of the Coast. However, Paddon, with Malcolm Read alongside as co-driver in a late change from the usual John Kennard, had to manage a few driveline niggles to bring the car home safely in first place.

“It was a bit tense today with a driveline problem we were trying to keep on top of,” says Paddon. “We had to take it relatively easy, and once again, a big team effort is what got the car over the line.”

Paddon wrapped up the NZRC drivers’ title at August’s round in Coromandel – his fourth New Zealand rally drivers’ championship and his first in a Hyundai – and was thrilled to secure the manufacturers’ title for Hyundai New Zealand this weekend.

“Hyundai New Zealand and the Hyundai dealer network has invested a lot into New Zealand rallying over the past three years since we debuted the AP4+ rally car, so it was important to me and an honour for the team to bring this home for them,” says Paddon.

Hyundai New Zealand General Manager Andy Sinclair was equally elated by the success, which sees Hyundai claim what is perhaps a world first rally title.

“It’s exciting to see the Hyundai name inscribed in yet another aspect of New Zealand rallying history,” says Sinclair.

“There has been a tremendous amount of hard work, passion and dedication invested by Hayden, the Paddon Rallysport team and our own personnel over the past three seasons with the Hyundai i20 AP4+ car. To conclude this season with both the drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles is a fine reward for our team.

“There’s no doubt our vision and motivation are matched by Hayden’s ambition to be the best. Every NZRC and WRC round he’s striving for more from himself and from the car.”

Sinclair adds: “Hayden makes an incredible commitment to support rallying here in New Zealand by travelling back and forth between New Zealand and Europe, and continues to lift the calibre of the professionalism in the sport here. We’re delighted to be part of Hayden’s success and we share many values – proudly Kiwi, community-focussed, aspiring to be the best, innovative, committed, and loyal.”

Hyundai New Zealand began their partnership with Paddon when he signed with the Hyundai Motorsport World Rally Championship team in 2014, utilising the popular WRC driver as a brand ambassador. The partnership evolved as Paddon and the Paddon Rallysport team developed a locally-built Hyundai i20 rally car, built to AP4+ regulations, with which to contest the New Zealand Rally Championship. Paddon and Kennard successfully debuted the car with victory in the 2016 Otago Rally; the car has now won eight rallies with Paddon at the wheel for seven victories and Dave Holder for one.

This year, Hyundai New Zealand extended their support to the entire championship by coming onboard as a commercial partner for the final two NZRC rounds. At the Raglan event, in keeping with the Whaanga Coast stage’s status as one of the most visually spectacular stages in world rallying, Hyundai New Zealand created a spectator zone with prime spectator viewing, and racing-related activities for fans to enjoy alongside the rally action.

For Sinclair, the success of the 2018 rally campaign endorses the decision to back Paddon’s international and national rallying endeavours.

“As a 100 per cent Kiwi-owned company, our decision to support a New Zealand sportsperson of Hayden’s calibre is easy. Hayden is, and will continue to be, a fine ambassador for the Hyundai brand in New Zealand. He’s a New Zealander competing on a global scale with international fame, yet has remained humble, grounded and rooted to his home country. Along with our nationwide dealer network, customers and motorsport fans around New Zealand and the world, we have watched Hayden develop and grow an incredible amount, and are immensely proud of him.

“With the New Zealand rally season now complete, we turn to Hayden’s final event of 2018 at Rally Australia next month. We know Hayden and his WRC co-driver Seb Marshall will take every chance to build on the success of Rally Turkey’s podium finish in the red dust of Australia.”