HOT-ticket driver Hayden Paddon of New Zealand will compete alongside Thierry Neuville in the main Hyundai Shell World Rally Team at Coates Hire Rally Australia.
The team is in a close battle for second place in the Manufacturers Championship where every point counts, and with Paddon’s recent experience of the Coffs Coast event and his strong form on gravel, Hyundai Motorsport believes his combination with Neuville offers the highest probability of good points.
Paddon, with co-driver John Kennard, will take over the #8 Hyundai i20 WRC for what is almost a home rally. Spaniard Dani Sordo, who has no experience of the Coffs event, will swap to the #20 Hyundai i20 WRC before returning to the #8 car for the Tour de Corse in France in October.
Team Principal Michel Nandan said: “We are in tight fight for second in the Manufacturers Championship with just a few points separating us from Citroen. After careful consideration we have agreed that adapting momentarily our line-up offers us the best chance to secure the points we need on this unique and challenging event.
“Hayden is very familiar with the rally and after his recent strong performances on gravel he is more than capable of supporting us in this battle.
“Dani did not compete in Australia in the last few years – and he never took part in the Coffs Harbour based event – so he has less experience of the particular demands of this rally.
“Meanwhile he still takes this opportunity with the #20 to get to know the stages and build his experience. He will be back in the #8 car at the Tour de Corse.”
The news will please Paddon’s huge supporter base, including those who will visit the Coffs Coast from New Zealand for the rally.
“I’m very pleased that the team has faith in me but at the end of the day it is just a car number change for me,” he said.
“I will have the same approach to the rally as always but this time I will be happy to challenge for points that can help the team in the Manufacturer standings.”