Hayden Paddon has announced the details of his 2011 Production World Rally Championship campaign, including the formation of the New Zealand World Rally Team.
Paddon has formed what is essentially the first New Zealand world rally team since Possum Bourne. The new team is run by Hayden Paddon Rallysport Global Ltd, the company established by Paddon and his supporters late last year. The goal is simple: to win the 2011 PWRC title.
“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 in Timaru today. “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.”
Not only does Paddon's 2011 campaign represent the first time a New Zealand team has put together a full PWRC campaign, it's also got a major twist for the long-time Mitsubishi driver: “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,” he added.
Paddon finished third in the PWRC class on his debut in 2010. That campaign had the backing of funding and a professionally-prepared vehicle from the Pirelli Star Driver scholarship that he won in 2009.
“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,” he continued. “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.
“The move to Subaru will be a big change for us, especially considering how much we have achieved in a series of Mitsubishis. 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.”
Paddon will compete in a latest spec STR11 Subaru Impreza N4, run by Belgium-based Symtech Racing – the team that won the PWRC title back in 2004 with Niall McShea.
“This is our first time dealing with Symtech, but Dirk, Wim and the rest of the team are really enthusiastic about working with us,” added Paddon, who has nominated the six PWRC events in Portugal, Argentina, Finland, Australia, Spain and Wales on which to score points. “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.”
Despite that though, he isn't underestimating the task ahead: “The competition is looking a lot stronger this year,” he explained. “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 but it also means that we have to work even harder to make our goal of winning the championship a reality.”