PADDON DROPPED AHEAD OF RALLY SPAIN
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.”