12 Aug 2015

Paddon to drive top car in Australia

11:31 am on 12 August 2015

The New Zealand driver Hayden Paddon has been promoted to one of the full factory Hyundai cars for next month's World Rally Championship event in Australia.

Hayden Paddon is filmed by a helicopter during day two of the rally of Italy, 2015.

Hayden Paddon is filmed by a helicopter during day two of the rally of Italy, 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Paddon will take Dani Sordo's place as the manufacturer bids to wrestle second place in the championship from Citroën.

Paddon, who normally drives for the second-tier Hyundai Motorsport N squad, will be promoted to the position of Thierry Neuville's team-mate, while Sordo will drive Paddon's usual #20 car.

With five rounds of the season remaining, Hyundai is in a close battle for second place in the FIA Manufacturers' Championship, and currently trails Citroën by just two points.

Australia is the closest Paddon gets to a home round of the WRC, and Hyundai believe his experience of the event and his recent strong run of form on gravel offer them the best chance of closing the gap.

Team Principal Michel Nandan said: "After careful consideration we have agreed that adapting momentarily our line-up offers us the best chance to secure the points we need on this unique and challenging event. Hayden is very familiar with the rally and after his recent strong performances on gravel he is more than capable of supporting us in this battle.

"Dani did not compete in Australia in the last few years - and he never took part in the Coffs Harbour based event - so he has less experience of the particular demands of this rally.

Paddon said he's very pleased that the team has faith in him but at the end of the day it is just a car number change for him.

He said he'll have the same approach to the rally as always but this time he'll be happy to challenge for points that can help the team in the manufacturer standings.

Paddon is currently ninth in the WRC standings.

The next round of the WRC is in Germany next week.

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