While a return to WRC is not out of the question for Hayden Paddon, the Kiwi does admit it’s something he’s not actively pursuing anymore.
In a recent exclusive with racing publishers Motorsport.com, Paddon stated that his aspirations have changed as his career progressed.
“I’m going to be massively busy with a full European campaign and a New Zealand campaign and a lot of back-to-back events on both sides of the world, so I’m probably going to be pretty puffed by the time I get to the end of the year,” Paddon told Motorsport.com.
“I’m obviously in a different part of my career now, I’m not trying to get back in the WRC.
“When you are young, you do the whole WRC and WRC2 thing to try and get attention, but that ship has sailed now, obviously, so I have chosen a programme that I will enjoy more and is a little bit more budget-friendly for us.
“The massive appeal for the ERC is the fact that you can win rallies outright, and in WRC2, you are in a class. I like winning, so I want to be winning rallies and not just the class.
“I was pretty dark about the whole WRC thing after it happened in 2019, but I’m in a much happier place in my life now. I like being back in New Zealand, and my preference was to stay living there and travel back and forth, and I love that we are doing it with our own team.”
It’s been a busy start to 2023 for Paddon, who has already tasted success twice with victories in Portugal’s Rally Serras de Fafe and last week’s Rally Otago. That schedule only continues to grow, the Kiwi competing in this weekend’s Rally Alba ahead of a triple-header of events in May.
Competing an entire European Rally Championship and New Zealand Rally Championship leaves little room for extra events, with a WRC or WRC2 drive seemingly out of the question.
Despite not actively chasing WRC, Paddon admits that if the opportunity did arise, he would still consider it, especially for a home event.
“I’m not holding out for anything that could come up, but of course, if there were an opportunity, you would be silly not to look at something, but I’m staying focussed on the things I can control,” he told Motorsport.com.
“The one big thing I would still like to do if Rally New Zealand does come back again is to do it in a WRC car. We were trying to make that happen last year, and it didn’t come to fruition. Doing my home round in a WRC car would be a dream come true.”
Paddon will take to the tarmac-dominant stages in Northern Italy’s Rally Alba this weekend, with co-driver Jared Hudson by his side. He’ll return to action with Rally Islas Canarias on May 5 before returning to Rally Whangarei on May 12. The week after that he’ll return to Europe for Rally Poland in the European Rally Championship.
Keep an eye out for our weekly Motorsport Diary to see when exactly he’ll be in action and how you can follow.