ERC champion Paddon reveals 2024 plans

The New Zealand driver will compete in Europe and at home in 2024

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After a record-breaking 2023 at both ends of planet earth, Hayden Paddon will return to defend both his European Rally Championship and New Zealand titles this season.

Kiwi Paddon was a model of consistency last season, finishing on the podium on all six ERC rounds he started – winning the opener in Fafe, Portugal. This year, with the European calendar having undergone changes, he’s looking forward to starting four new events aboard a BRC Racing-run Hyundai i20 N Rally2.

“We’ve been working to confirm our return to the European Rally Championship over the New Zealand summer,” said Paddon, who became the first non-European to take the FIA Regional title last season. “And I’m very pleased, that with the support of BRC Racing, Hyundai Motorsport, Hyundai New Zealand and Pirelli, we are now heading back to Europe to try and defend our title.

“I expect John [Kennard, co-driver] and I will have targets on our backs with other competitors striving to beat us. We expect a tougher fight, but we will look to lift our performances this year on some of the events we will now have experience of.

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Paddon and Kennard will defend their ERC title with the BRC team

“We contested half of the eight rallies last year so at least we have more experience than we had 12 months ago. That leaves half as new-to-us rallies with more Tarmac events than gravel. We’re up for that challenge because I think our performance on Tarmac has come a long way in the last few years, so we back ourselves to be equally as competitive on tarmac as we are on gravel.

“It will be an exciting year.”

It’s also a 19th year for the Paddon and Kennard partnership.

“It’s awesome to have John back in the car again,” said Paddon. “Being our 19th year working together, it’s like a fine wine getting better with age. We’re both excited to get back over there and put last year’s experience to good use.

Hayden Paddon

Paddon has dominated the New Zealand rallying scene in recent years

This year’s ERC starts with Rally Hungary, which clashes with the New Zealand Rally Championship opener in Otago.

Paddon will miss the Dunedin-based event in favour of what he hopes will be a repeat of last year’s flying start in Europe.

“It’s going to be a full-on year, running in five of the six NZRC events as well,” added Paddon. “We’ll be here to try and defend our NZRC title as well, but that goal will be a bit harder given we’re missing Otago. We’ve also got the ongoing development of the EV rally car and a few other projects up our sleeves that we’re looking forward to.”

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