World Rally star Hayden Paddon will switch to racing and compete in the Tour Car Race (TCR) New Zealand Championship – his first major attempt at circuit racing.
Paddon, a winner at the highest level of rallying in the WRC, will contest the opening three events of the series’ inaugural season, driving a Hyundai i30 N for his own team Paddon Racing Group (PRG).
The outfit, based at the Highlands Motorsport Park near Queenstown, has secured a second-hand i30 N from Italy which Paddon and his team has recently been testing to get prepared for the all-new touring car championship.
Paddon is a four-time winner of the New Zealand Rally Championship and has contested 81 World Rally rounds, including his and New Zealand’s first-ever win in a WRC round in 2016 at the Rally Argentina.
“TCR is a successful formula and it has taken off all around the world and it exciting for me to confirm that I will contest the opening rounds,” said Paddon. “It offers an even playing field between different cars and different drivers and it has proven to a formula that is working. Our team decided to get involved because we’re trying to branch out and look at new horizons. It’s the chance for the team to develop, try new avenues in the sport. I’ve done no circuit racing at all. Our race team is based at Highlands, so I’ve had the chance to drive plenty of different cars on the track, but never with other cars around me, so obviously there is going to be a lot to learn. I’m really excited for the challenge. We want to go out and enjoy ourselves, but at the same time, it’s a chance to learn a new discipline of the sport. I’m really looking forward to it.”