Paddon delivers fourth title
Hayden Paddon has never been afraid of hard work to make the dream work.
The World Rally Championship (WRC) driver’s work ethic was installed from a young age so how he secured his first racing car should come as no surprise. And what was that car?
‘‘In a mini, my first which [I] paid for working in a fish and chip shop and doing the paper run,’’ Paddon said.
Fresh from a seventh placing in the Wales Rally Great Britain earlier this month, where he was just 6.5 seconds from fourth and 75sec behind the winner, Paddon takes an unassailable lead into the final round of the New Zealand Rally Championship (NZRC) at the Hyundai Raglan Rally of the Coast today.
But Paddon is desperate to win the one-day rally in his AP4+ rally car to help secure the manufacturers’ title for Hyundai New Zealand.
Victory, or even just beating home leading Subaru driver Ben Hunt will secure the manufacturers’ championship.
Paddon, 31, was first introduced to the sport of rallying by his father, Chris, who was an accomplished rally driver himself.
Chris Paddon was racing before Paddon was born and when Paddon was just a toddler his father had built him a motorised jeep to burn around home in.
By the age of six, Paddon was racing go-karts. He would become a Canterbury champion in 1998.
He took out his MotorSport New Zealand license soon after at the age of 12 – the earliest it can be obtained.
‘‘I love motorsport. For me, it’s always been a way of life it’s never just been a sport or a hobby.
‘‘Everything I do is based around motorsport and driving and that’s what I live for,’’ Paddon told Stuff Hayden Paddon has
when he was an unassailable lead
back in Canterbury going into the final
round of the New for
Forest Rallysprint late last month.
Soon after obtaining his MotorSport New Zealand license, Paddon was forced to make a call between rallying and circuit racing but he was destined to go the gravel way.
‘‘I obviously got brought up around that rally environment and it was just what I loved. I just loved the adventure and the challenges. It’s always changing and you’ve always got to be adapting. And of course the thrill of going sideways at 200km an hour on gravel.’’
Paddon rates his WRC round victory in Argentina back in 2016 as the highlight of his career so far.
When Paddon was watching his idols Colin McRae and Possum Bourne he never thought he would make it onto the world stage himself.
‘‘To me it was like being an astronaut, it was that far-fetched, it was that far away and then 20 years later to be winning on that first WRC rally, you had to pinch yourself,’’ Paddon said.
‘‘It was definitely the most amazing day of my life to think what we’d done over those 20 years to get there and make that possible so you’ll never ever forget the first one,’’ he said.
Rallying and IndyCar are worlds apart but Paddon takes inspiration from the journey of five-time IndyCar champion and fellow Kiwi Scott Dixon and can see some similarities in what they are trying to achieve on the world stage.
Trying to get established in any form of motorsport internationally from New Zealand is challenging logistically and financially, Paddon said.
‘‘It takes a lot of time and patience. What Scott’s done is amazing. It’s a real inspiration for myself and any sports people trying to compete around the world,’’ Paddon said.
Paddon will have his former WRC co-driver John Kennard back in the car at Raglan. The final NZRC round of the season will cover more than 170km of special stages.
Paddon assured himself his fourth NZRC drivers’ crown when he won the Rally of Coromandel back in August.