NZ Performance Car - - Inside Line -

Hyundai Mo­tor­sport an­nounced in Septem­ber that Kiwi driver Hayden Paddon will be re­placed by Nor­we­gian An­dreas Mikkelsen head­ing into the FIA World Rally Cham­pi­onship (WRC) Rally de Es­paña (Oc­to­ber 5–10). Mikkelsen will com­pete in all three re­main­ing rounds of the cham­pi­onship. Paddon re­mains un­der con­tract with the team, and will run se­lected ral­lies in the third car. The team cites lost ground in the Man­u­fac­tur­ers’ Cham­pi­onship as one of the rea­sons be­hind the de­ci­sion, which is an ef­fort to close the gap to M-Sport in the fi­nal three rounds.

“Reach­ing this de­ci­sion was not easy, but we felt it was nec­es­sary to reaf­firm our­selves in the cham­pi­onship bat­tle,” says Team Prin­ci­pal Micheal. “Dis­cus­sions with An­dreas have been on­go­ing since he was out of a drive, but we had noth­ing to of­fer him, as our line-up was fixed. How­ever, with us los­ing ground, we de­cided to re-eval­u­ate the sit­u­a­tion. We had an open dis­cus­sion with all three of our crews, and in­formed them of our de­ci­sion to make this ad­just­ment.”

Mikkelsen en­ters the team with three wins to his name over the course of his 11-year ca­reer in WRC, with his best plac­ing over the last three sea­sons see­ing him in third. In com­par­i­son, Paddon boasts one win af­ter his third full sea­son, with four fin­ishes on the podium, in­clud­ing a second at this sea­son’s Rally Poland — a string of car is­sues and un­for­tu­nate in­ci­dents have seen a less-than-stel­lar run from the tal­ented wheel­man this sea­son.

Paddon re­sponded to the news via social me­dia, say­ing: “We will not give up. We re­main un­der con­tract un­til the end of the 2018 sea­son and still have some ral­lies re­main­ing this year to show what I know we are ca­pa­ble of. This whole sit­u­a­tion only fu­els the fire more and I will not let 20 years of hard work, tears, and sac­ri­fice by my­self and many oth­ers go to waste over a few bad events.”

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