The Kiwi and co-driver John Kennard will crew a Fiesta for the M-Sport Ford squad, completing a comeback that came to an abrupt halt when a test crash in their entry car three days before last month’s Neste Rally Finland sidelined them from the event.

The Coffs Harbour-based rally will be Paddon’s second outing in quick succession. He will also drive a Fiesta R5 in the 2 Pro category at Wales Rally GB (3 – 6 October).

After the Finland setback, Paddon has worked hard with his backers to fund the two events.

“After the disappointment of Finland, there was no way we could let that be the end of it and, together with M-Sport, we’ve worked hard to find some solutions,” said Paddon. “I really can’t thank everyone enough for their continued help and support.”

He said returning to a Word Rally Car would be the highlight, but denied there was pressure to deliver results.

“We’re not treating these rallies as a ‘last chance.’ We want to relax and enjoy the whole experience which will allow the results to come naturally. These are both rallies we know well and I feel I’m at a good level.

Paddon finished second in his last World Rally Car drive in last season

“There’s no reason we can’t deliver some strong results, but it’s important we don’t go chasing them – just let them come naturally,” added Paddon, who won the Pacific Cup within the Asia Pacific Rally Championship last month.

Paddon’s last event was in last year when he finished second in a Hyundai i20 before being dropped by the Korean manufacturer. He finished third there in 2017.

M-Sport team principal Rich Millener said the two rallies would give Paddon the opportunity to remind people of his abilities.

“For Rally , I think it’s clear what he aims to do there and it will be great to see him back battling the regulars.

“After what happened in the lead-up to Finland, it was clear a lot of fans were desperate to see Hayden back behind the wheel. We gave him some thoughts and advice on what was needed to compete with us again and within three weeks he was pretty much there,” he said.


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