Last weekend, (22nd Jan) Hayden Paddon held a fundraising dinner to reveal his plans and details for his 2011 PWRC campaign, and made the announcement of the newly formed New Zealand World Rally Team, something that Paddon describes as a “dream come true”. The new team is run by Hayden Paddon Rallysport Global Ltd, a company formed by Paddon and his supporters in 2010.
Paddon’s 2011 campaign represents the first time a New Zealand team has put together a full PWRC campaign, and has also swaped from his Mitsubishi which he contested 2010 in with the Pirelli star driver scheme, to a Subaru. Paddon say’s “While it’s no secret that we wanted to get back overseas and win the PWRC title this year, what may surprise many is our switch of cars to form a partnership with rally giant, Subaru. Last year’s opportunities with the Pirelli Star Driver programme were amazing, and to follow that up by being able to put our own global programme together is fantastic. We were offered an opportunity to run with Ralliart Italy again this year in a Mitsubishi, but after being approached by a Subaru representative, we decided to make the change as we feel that there are greater future possibilities with Subaru.”
He goes on to say, “The move to Subaru will be a big change for us, especially considering how much we have achieved in a series of Mitsubishi. In saying that, I am confident that driving the Subaru will give us a better chance of winning the championship as they are very strong, well-balanced cars. At the end of the day, as long as it has four wheels and a steering wheel, I’m happy! As a youngster I was always a huge Subaru fan, and now to get a chance to drive one in world competition fulfils a childhood dream.”
Running a latest spec STR11 Subaru Impreza N4 for Paddon and his co-driver John Kennard, is a highly regarded Belgium team, Symtech Racing. Symtech is well-known in Europe for its extensive expertise building and running competitive Subaru Impreza rally cars to international Group N regulations. The team won the PWRC title back in 2004 with Irish star Niall McShea and is also currently successfully running the official Subaru Poland rally team in the Polish national rally championships.
Hayden say’s “This is our first time dealing with Symtech, but Dirk, Wim and the rest of the team are really enthusiastic about working with us. They are every bit as motivated to win the production championship as we are. All the ingredients are there for it to be a successful relationship and we are confident that the car will be very competitive.”
Paddon finished third in the PWRC on his debut in 2010. That campaign had the backing of funding and a professionally prepared vehicle from the Pirelli Star Driver scholarship that Paddon won in 2009, as well as funding from Paddon’s own sponsors and a Rally New Zealand Rising Stars driver development award. Since he finished Rally GB, he immediately got to work, and continued non-stop in getting together the funding, sponsors and support. “There has been a phenomenal amount of hard work by many people to put this campaign together,” said the two-time New Zealand rally champion at the team’s launch at a special fundraising dinner. “While we are not over the finish line yet in terms of the budget, we are well on our way and will continue to work on the required funds throughout the year.”
His only aim is to fight to win the 2011 Production World Rally Championship, but knows it will be a real challenge. “The competition is looking a lot stronger this year,” notes Paddon. “As we found out last year, there is simply no room for error at this level. Where we had three or four teams fighting for victory last year, I feel the number of potential victors will double this year. This is great for the championship and also means that we have to work even harder to make our goal of winning the championship a reality.”
Paddon has nominated the following six PWRC events: Vodafone Rally de Portugal (24-27 March), Rally Argentina (26-29 May), Neste Oil Rally Finland (28-31 July), Rally Australia (8-11 Sept), Rally de Espana (20-23 Oct) and Wales Rally GB (10-13 Nov).