Latest Paddon WRC return attempt falls through

New Zealander's 2020 WRC plans on hold as result of coronavirus outbreak

Hayden Paddon Hyundai

For the third time in less than 12 months, Hayden Paddon’s World Rally Championship return has been put on ice.

The world rally-winning Kiwi was scheduled to announce a program of WRC outings in a Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC this week.

A freak testing crash ruled his return out in Finland last season, bush fires did the same in Australia, and now COVID-19 has postponed his plans for a four-rally season culminating in September’s Rally New Zealand.

Paddon was expected to drive alongside Frenchman Pierre-Louis Loubet, who is also aiming to drive an i20 Coupe WRC this season.

Paddon told DirtFish: “It looks like everything’s on the backburner now. We’d reached the contract stage, but the virus has put paid to things for now.

“I don’t want to give away too many of the plans, but the idea was for us to build towards an outing on Rally New Zealand. We’ll have to see what happens now.”

Paddon, who made a winning start to the season at his own Ben Nevis Station Golden 1200 Hill Climb on New Zealand’s South Island, remained philosophical about the situation.

“Such is life,” he said. “This is the way rallying can be sometimes.

“Let’s wait and see what happens. Obviously there are wider concerns right now and there’s a fair bit of uncertainty around the world.

“It’d be nice to give it another crack, but let’s see when this this thing ends.”