Why Hyundai is divided over Paddon

Published on Friday November 24 2017

Hayden Paddon has endured a difficult WRC season. Pic: Mcklein-imagedatabase

Whaanga Coast, Te Akau and Manawahe. There are three reasons why Hayden Paddon won’t be worrying about his future this weekend.

This weekend’s about Rally New Zealand and his run out ahead of thousands of passionate and partisan fans.

What this weekend was supposed to be about was convincing the FIA that New Zealand’s return to the World Rally Championship was ready to go next season.

Because of a lack of funding, that shot’s gone south. Question is, will Paddon’s career follow suit?

Last week’s Rally Australia was a real eye-opener into life in the Hyundai team. I said in my report in this week’s issue, the Korean squad is divided between the Andreas Mikkelsen and Thierry Neuville camp and those loyal to Hayden Paddon and Dani Sordo.

That situation remains and, while Michel Nandan and Alain Penasse will work hard through the closed season to bring the team together, there will undoubtedly remain an undercurrent early into next year.

Sordo has made his feelings quite clear: he wants to move on and get on with the seven rallies he will contest in 2018. And Paddon has to do the same.

It’s absolutely vital that Hayden puts this behind him. Yes, it’s a massive setback, but it’s only going to be career-ending if he lets it.

I’ve spoken to Nandan and Penasse at length on this subject and both want Paddon to succeed. If they didn’t believe in him, he wouldn’t be in the car at all next year. Running a driver on seven rallies is still a multi-million-pound investment and not one that’s done lightly.

What Paddon has to do is focus on the positives. Stop carping on about struggling on asphalt. Juha Kankkunen won four world titles without even coming close to a win on Tarmac, apart from when Toyota cheated in 1995 – and even then he crashed.

Paddon has shown glimpses of his speed, but not consistently. Pic: Mcklein

There was fault on both sides this year. The season started in the most appalling fashion with the crash in Monte Carlo and there was little to cheer in the following months.

Understandably, Paddon was nowhere near his normal self in Sweden, then he had car trouble in Mexico; couldn’t find the feeling in Corsica; rolled in Argentina; more car trouble in Portugal and then Sardinia. Breakthrough. He was leading and looking good. Then he hit a bank and broke a driveshaft.

What was it that he called himself? Oh yeah, an amateur. And a d*ckhead.

Amatuer’s a bit harsh, but there was definitely a case for the latter.

Poland. Genuine breakthrough. Second.

Finland, more damage; Germany, punctures.

Out for Spain.

In for GB, but no confidence.

Australia, podium. Just.

It’s been a hell of a year.

They happen in sport.

Go back a bit further and you’d find him second in Sweden, winning Argentina and finishing just off the podium for the last three rounds in 2016.

Paddon’s still got it. He knows it and the team knows it.

Doubtless, he’s not the popular guy in town with them right now. And all he can see is the golden boys Neuville and Mikkelsen swanning around, winning rallies, finishing on the podium and laughing at each other’s jokes.

Mikkelsen is Hyundai’s new golden boy. Pic: Mcklein

Why shouldn’t they? They’ve both been where Paddon is now. And they’ve both pulled themselves out.

Forget the stuff you can’t control. Wind everything back and get back to enjoying driving the car – not easy I know when you’re driving style sets you out on a limb and the car’s not really tailored for Paddon’s aggressive style.

All is not lost for Paddon. He’s still only 30 and has a decade at the top of the sport if he gets the next season right. He’s worked harder than anybody I know to get himself into this position and to see it go down the toilet now would be a tragedy.

Let’s not let that happen.

Paddon can win, and has won, for Hhyundai. Pic: Mcklein

Recent news


Who I have my money on for the BTCC title

By Matt James

Rallying News

Citroen: Meeke was 'not under control'

Citroen World Rally team principal Pierre Budar felt Kris Meeke was out of control and left...

Karting: The secrets to PF International

As part of our special investigation into the world of karting, we got former karting star and...

Racing News

BTCC driver Moffat quits TCR UK

British Touring Car Championship driver Aiden Moffat has exited the TCR UK championship, with...

Racing News

Historic FFord driver saved from fiery crash

Historic Formula Ford driver Nelson Rowe credited two spectators and a competitor for saving...

Rallying News

Citroen: C3 design saved Meeke in crash

Citroen team principal Pierre Budar believes the design of the manufacturer's C3 World Rally...

Rallying News

Triple ERC champion makes WRC2 move

Reigning three-time European Rally champion Kajetan Kajetanowicz will move into the World Rally...


Silverstone's rallycross adventure

By Matt James

Taking on the European karting scene

The international karting paddock has witnessed its fair share of talented British drivers in...

Rallying News

Electric Mitsubishi rally car being developed

Swedish outfit Mpart has started developing an electric Mitsubishi rally car built around R5...

Rallying News

New WRC GB route a missed opportunity - Evans

Last year's Rally GB winner Elfyn Evans feels the revamped route for Wales' 2018 World Rally...

Rallying News

Rally seeding rules relaxed

Two-wheel drive and historic rally cars will be able to run first on the road on rally events...

Rallying News

MN Road Rally legends to attend Speed and Rally Show forum

Legends of the Motoring News Road Rally Championship will attend a forum at this weekend’s...

Rallying News

New push to get privateers back in WRC

World Rally Championship organisers are mounting a new push to get privateers back in the series'...

Rallying News

Toyota rules out team orders to boost Tanak

Toyota team principal Tommi Makinen has ruled out making Ott Tanak a clear number one and imposing...

Exploring karting's family tree

It’s commonly defined by professional racing drivers as the purest form of motorsport. It’s...

Rallying News

Kelly to make surprise Killarney return

Manus Kelly will make a surprise visit to the International Rally of the Lakes in Killarney...

Rallying News

Rally GB to unveil major route revamp

A significantly different route for Rally GB 2018, Britain's World Rally Championship round,...

Rallying News

Rovanpera hospitalised after Argentina crash

Kalle Rovanpera was hospitalised for checks after crashing out of the Rally Argentina WRC2 lead...

Rallying News

Ford sets out conditions for works RX return

Ford wants to see how the future of rallycross develops amid changes in America and plans for...

Racing News

Ingram takes victory in Donington Race 2

Tom Ingram became the first two-time winner in this season's British Touring Car Championship...

Racing News

Cook claims maiden BTCC victory

Josh Cook has broken his victory duck in the British Touring Car Championship, taking his Power...

1 2 3 52

More national news, in-depth race reports and analysis. Subscribe to the Motorsport News paper today.

What’s On

This weekend

No Events


No Events

This weekend

No Events


No Events