Paddon fighting for a world rally future
"We’ve got a number of people helping us to find the money"
The winter months can be a tough time for rally drivers. Those fortunate enough to have a factory seat can relish the prospect of oodles of testing. For most, however, the off-season represents a period of uncertainty as the search to secure a ride for the upcoming campaign gets harder and harder.
Hayden Paddon, a 23-year-old rising star from New Zealand, is one such driver facing that very struggle.
After landing an impressive third place in the Production Car World Rally Championship standings in his debut season in the series this year, Paddon is now trying to secure the funds to chase the P-WRC title in 2011.
He needs to raise 500,000 New Zealand Dollars (about 284,000 Euros) to clinch his preferred option of a drive in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X run by the Ralliart Italia team, which has guided Armindo Araujo to back-to-back P-WRC titles and oversaw the Pirelli Star Driver programme for the last two seasons.
Paddon, who took part on six WRC events as a member of the Pirelli Star Driver team plus two standalone rounds with his family-run operation in 2010, is planning to sell shares in himself to potential investors as part of his efforts to raise the necessary finance.
“We’ve got a number of people helping us to find the money,” said Paddon, who hails from Geraldine on New Zealand’s South Island. “One of the ideas is to sell shares in me to investors as part of a three-year plan to get into a World Rally Car. It’s created a lot of interest but no money so far but we’re not just relying on the share scheme. We’ve also got people approaching sponsors, businesses with interests in Europe who could really benefit from the massive number of spectators who watch the rallies over there.”
After taking his maiden P-WRC win on home soil in New Zealand back in May, Paddon reckons he’s worthy of financial support, a view shared by several WRC insiders following a strong showing this season by the young Kiwi.
“Competing away from New Zealand took me out of my comfort zone but I was happy with my performances in what was really a learning year,” said Paddon. “I’m fully committed to this sport, it’s what I want to do. No New Zealander has competed at the top level on a full-time basis before and I want to be the first.”
He continued: “I was very grateful for the opportunity the Pirelli drive gave me but the regulations meant we weren’t able to change the set-up of the car and tune it into my style. We’ll get a higher-spec car for next year and continuing with Ralliart will be very good for me. They know what they’re doing having won the last two championships.”
With P-WRC registrations closing on January 4, time is not on Paddon’s side in his bid to raise the backing. “Even if we don’t have all the funds then we might have to bite the bullet and put the entry in, otherwise we’ll miss out. The next two weeks are going to be pivotal to my future in the sport.”
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