Rallying is a sport that has been part of the Paddon family for quite some time. Hayden’s father Chris first got into motorsport at the age of 22, competing in club events around the South Island in numerous cars. Born in 1987, Hayden was introduced to motorsport at a young age. At first he accompanied his Dad to rallies, before he was old enough to service for him. Chris went on to win the 1999 Mainland Series (South Island) 2WD and 1600cc Championship.

Hayden then started driving go-karts at the age of 6. His first kart was one that his Dad built for him, powered by a chainsaw engine. His first events were remembered for getting a one lap head start on his competitors, to then by the end of the second lap, being passed.

After stepping up to a bigger kart he was soon achieving respectable results, both regionally and nationally. Some of his notable results were South Canterbury Champion, and runner up in the South Island Championships two years running. At the age of 10 he progressed to purpose built tarmac karts; a totally different level, based out of Carrs Road in Christchurch. All the karts were identical, and weight restrictions were imposed to make the competition as close as possible. Hayden thrived on the challenge though and was immediately at the front of the field.

He managed 3rd in the Canterbury Champs in 1997, followed by becoming Canterbury Champion in 1998, and then runner up in the 1999 Canterbury Club Championship (consisting of 10 months of competition).

Despite the driving lessons from Hayden’s father on the farm from a young age, Hayden got his hands on his first proper car at the age of 13 – a Mini. Hayden stripped it out himself, before competing in his first event, held by the Ashburton Car Club. The event was a grass motorkhana (a skilled time trial event based around planned courses) held at a local airfield. Out of the 22 competing, Hayden finished a respectable 10th overall in a standard Mini. That was the start.

With the Ashburton Car Club he competed in many motorkhanas and autocrosses over a period of 2-3 years. This was where he crafted his driving skills, coupled with ongoing help and advice from his father. In his first full season in the club he won the Junior Championship.

The following year Hayden started to build the Mini into more than just a standard ‘brick’. Work undertaken included a bigger engine, suspension developments and weight reduction. This process gave Hayden his introduction to mechanical work and building cars – something that would prove valuable for the future. That year he won 5 of the 7 motorkhanas, and an autocross, on his way to winning the Motorkhana Championship and 0-1300cc Championship.

At the same time Hayden began co-driving for his father in his Toyota Levin, competing in Mainland Series events. The first event he co-drove in was the 2001 Southland Rally, as 0 (safety) car. This was made even more interesting for him as he didn’t know he was co-driving until they were only a few hours away from Invercargill. He then went onto co-drive for his father later the same year in the Timaru Rally, where he was a passenger in his first crash, when the car slipped off the road and into a ditch.

2002 brought new challenges and a new direction, as Hayden got his first taste of the gravel. It was a mix of driving his Mini and his Dad’s Toyota Levin. His first event in the Corolla was on his 15th birthday, in the Ashley Forest Rally Sprint (the youngest person ever to do the popular rallysprint). Throughout the year he continued to do local events in the Mini, and also more events in is fathers Levin. This included more gravel rally sprints, and beating his father for the first time at a local tarmac sprint.

However, 2002 also presented Hayden his first crash as a driver. Driving the Mini in an autocross, Hayden was in a dogfight for victory with 2 other competitors and was pushing hard to go for the win. On his final run of the day, he hit a rut sideways at the end of a 130kmph straight, sending the car into a barrel roll. The car rolled twice and as it didn’t have a roll cage, the roof caved in quite considerably. He was lucky to escape with just whiplash, but the car was a write off. A night at the hospital was in order however as precaution.

Hayden’s father put the question to Hayden at the age of 12 – ‘how are you going to fund your racing?’. Hayden’s response was to get 3 jobs. So he did. Doing the morning 5am paper run was followed by school or in the school holidays working for his father’s business. Then in the evenings he would work at the local Fish n’ Chip shop. After finishing school in 2004 Hayden then worked as a sales and parts person at a local Motorbike store.

While the money he earned helped to cover some of the bill to fuel his passion, it become clear to Hayden that it wasn’t enough. During the later years of competing in the Mini and starting in the Toyota, he came up with the idea of getting is local town (Geraldine) behind him. So a campaign ‘Shop Geraldine’ was born. At the age of 13 equipped with sponsorship proposals, Hayden went around each and every Geraldine business, eventfully getting 15 companies onboard at $100 each per year. This campaign continued for 3 years, and it is where he crafted his skills of working with and looking after sponsors. Sponsor activities included demonstrations and shows, car washes and local stores, flyers and brochure distribution and inviting guests to events – this at the age of 14.

As the years progressed, the financial input became more and more, and while Hayden has always putting every dollar into rallying, it became more and more apparent that more was needed. While Hayden’s father helped a lot in the early years of the rallying, as he started to consolidate his place in NZ rallying and building a greater profile, more long term partners became involved. Also winning the Rally NZ $50,000 Rising Star Scholarship in 2009 helped to then win the 2010 Pirelli Star Driver Scholarship.

Two weeks later he competed in is first rally, at Hanmer, back in the his fathers Toyota Levin. Aged 15, Hayden competed in the event with learner ‘L’ plates, which created a bit of interest and laughter. Seeded 24, he managed to end the event in 18th overall and 4th in class with co-driver and friend Richard Fincham alongside. Later that same year he competed in his local Timaru Rally, where he got quicker and quicker by the stage. By the end of the event he had raced up to 18th overall and took class victory by over a minute. So 2002 was a year that wasn’t going to be forgotten in a hurry. Victories in the Mini, his first crash, first rally, and first rally class victory.

2003 was his first full rally championship, the Mainland Rally Series. Driving his fathers Toyota, he missed the first round at Otago, but joined the championship at Southland. After a 6 month absence from behind the wheel he finished 19th overall and 4th in class. This was backed up by a class victory at Christchurch and a 4th in class at Catlins. With no one dominating the class, Hayden found himself in a strong championship position. He finished 3rd in class at Nelson and then won the final round, Westland. The consistent results, with 2 victories, set him up to win the Mainland 2WD Championship and tied on points in the 1301-1600c Championship. This was the same feat that his father had achieved 4 years earlier.

With more sponsors, 2004 promised to be a bigger and better year. Once again driving his Dad’s car (Dad having now moved from the driver’s seat to team manager), they started their championship bid at round 3 of the 7 round series, in Timaru. Unfortunately, a puncture cost 20 minutes on stage 2, before they slid off the road and out of the event on the rallies 5th stage. So after round 3 the team had 1 point, while the class leaders had already collected 45 points. Hayden then did what was thought to be the impossible, as the whole team put in a huge effort to win the final 4 rounds in Canterbury, Catlins, Nelson and Westland, taking the 2004 1600cc class Mainland Rally Championship. His pace during the latter part of the season was outstanding, beating the more powerful national 2WD cars on stages at Nelson, and on the verge of top 10 overall rally results at Canterbury and the Coast.

With two successful seasons in the Levin under his belt, he thought it was time to step up. Selling his Toyota, Chris purchased the 1997 New Zealand Championship winning Mitsubishi Evo4. Partnered by new co-driver Nicole France, who also co-drove in the final 2 events of the 2004 Championship, Hayden and the team attacked the 2005 Mainland Series and New Zealand Rally Extreme Championships. The year was targeted solely at learning about the new car, but after a 3rd overall finish at the opening round in Southland, the team soon realised that event victories were a possibility. Their strong result was soon backed up by another excellent 4th overall finish at his local Timaru Rally. Hayden went into the 3rd round of the Mainland Series leading the championship, but unfortunately Catlins was the start of a run of bad luck that would last till the end of the year. Hayden retired from the event while leading, with a blown clutch. The team then ventured to the North Island for the Rally Extreme round, and Hayden’s first tarmac stages – the Greg Todd Memorial Rally. Unfortunately they had to retire from the morning after stage 2, with extensive frontal damage after an off road excursion on the slippery, wet tar. However, the crew did an amazing job and got the car back out for the afternoon’s gravel stages, where they set some competitive times considering the mornings damage meant they were well down on power.

The 4th round of the Mainland Series was the Nelson Rally, but once again their progress was hampered by mechanical gremlins. A bad engine misfire caused them to loose 5 minutes over the opening two stages, though later in the event Hayden managed a 3rd fastest stage time amongst the New Zealand National championship field, finishing behind two national champions.

When Hayden thought things wouldn’t get worse, 25 September 2005 proved them wrong. Competing in the 5th round of the Mainland Championship – Rally Canterbury, Hayden and co-driver Nicole left the road on stage 5, while leading the event. The car came to a halt on its side, but worse was to follow, when 10 minutes after the accident the car caught fire. Despite everyone’s best efforts, the fire could not be controlled and the car burnt to the ground. It was a total loss and the team ended the season a rally early and with no car. Their 2005 season included 11 stage wins while they lead on 4 different rallies.

At the start of 2006 the disasters of 2005 made it seem like an up hill battle to get any sort of campaign together. With no insurance for the car Hayden and his team were left thinking his career was over before it started. However, the whole New Zealand rally and South Canterbury community rallied around to help raise the funds for them to purchase a new car. This coupled with a new sponsor allowed the team to not only replace the 2005 car, but upgrade to a new Production Group N Mitsubishi Evo8 to attack their debut year in the New Zealand Rally Championship, New Zealand’s premier rally class. The car and team sported the same green colour scheme from the previous three years, and a new team name, “Team Green” was born.

2006 also brought a new co-driver, John Kennard. John had a wealth of overseas experience, in various world rally teams, which would be a great help to Hayden’s development. Also help him achieve his goal of making it to the WRC. So, with a new lease of life, new car and new championship, the team’s goals were to win the New Zealand Junior and Rookie titles in preparation for an all out assault on the overall title in 2007.

The championship opener in Dunedin was a mixed bag for the team, 10th and leading rookie on day one but a blown motor on the opening stage of day two brought their run to an abrupt end. Financial restraints meant the team could not make the journey north to the International Rally of Rotorua, but they did compete in a Mainland Rally in Southland. Once again they retired early with mechanical gremlins, while holding a strong 2nd. Round 3 of the NZ Championships, where after a bad start to the year. It was time to change their fortune and get back into contention for the rookie and junior titles. Taking maximum points in both championships at Whangarei, Hawkes Bay and Wairarapa did just that, and along with two top 5 overall finishes, in Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay, the team had a new found confidence and reliability.

Going into the final round in Nelson, the team were in the box seat to wrap up both titles. Day one was a relatively short leg, but the main priority was to get the necessary points for the championships. 4th on day 1 and their first stage victory was a good way to start the weekend. After the opening two stages of leg 2, Hayden and co-driver John held a strong 3rd, but then problems hit the duo over the next set of 3 stages which dropped them to 5th. They held onto 5th until the end which was enough to clinch both the 2006 New Zealand Junior and Rookie titles – Hayden becoming the youngest rally title winner in New Zealand at age 19. It was a great year made possible by a great team effort, and was sure to be a good platform for a strong showing in the 2007 New Zealand Championship.

After a successful learning year in 2006, the goal for 2007 was to show more speed and look towards outright victories. After more development and testing of the car during the off season, the team hit the ground running, with a fine 3rd overall at the opening round in Otago. It was a sign of bigger things to come, as they headed to the Asia Pacific round in Whangarei. This was a rally where everything clicked, and despite a bird’s best effort to go through the front window, Hayden and co-driver John steered their way to Hayden’s first rally victory. In doing so beating all the international teams home and becoming the youngest person to ever win a FIA Asia Pacific Rally. Hayden described the victory as totally out of the blue and it took some time to sink in. As championship leader going into the third round, in the Wairarapa, they had the honour of sweeping the road for the first time, and it turned out to be a steep learning curve. Progressively lifting their speed stage by stage in the slippery conditions, they ended the rally in 3rd.

Then, on the single leg event in Hawkes Bay, in wet conditions, Hayden struggled to adapt, but, after a couple of new stage records, he clawed his way back to 4th and into the championship lead again. The 5th round was the International Rally of New Zealand, New Zealand’s round of the World Rally Championship, where the team also had a wild card entry into the Production WRC. Having set the 5th fastest Group N time on the opening stage, against some of the world’s best production car drivers, they ground to a halt on the second stage with gearbox failure. After their previous great form, Hayden described being totally gutted, both for the NZ championship and in front of the world audience. They rejoined for day 2 to amass more points for their national campaign, but would go to Nelson 20 points adrift of the championship lead, with only 32 points up for grabs. The team did all they could, Hayden driving his heart out and winning all but one stage. A convincing rally win, but an agonising one point off the overall championship victory. Hayden did however wrap up the NZ Junior title for a second year.

To top the year off Hayden had another PWRC experience, this time as Team Jordan driver in the season ending WRC Wales Rally GB. Wanting to prove himself on the international scene, the rally got off to the worst possible start. After being in the top 5 in the early splits, they hit a culvert on the inside of a slow corner which broke the steering tie-rod and had to crawl through the stage with a wheel hanging off. Unfortunately they could not make roadside repairs, so their rally was short lived. They rejoined again for Day 2, only for the front subframe to collapse, ending their rally for good. Reflecting on a trying and devastating rally, Hayden described it as character building, though encouraging him to be back bigger and stronger next time.

New challenges awaited as the now 21-year-old Hayden got to grips with a new Mitsubishi Evo IX, resplendent in the distinctive Paddon Direct green livery. The goal: to win the New Zealand Rally Championship.

In April Hayden, John and the team headed to Rally Wairarapa for the first NZRC event of the season. It was always hard to beat local man and (at that point) two-time national champion Richard Mason, and early issues with the car didn’t help but they persevered to win the final stage of the two-day rally and take sixth overall.

May saw the team back at one of Hayden’s favourite events, Otago. While the rally win went to Richard Mason, Hayden and John were second fastest in ten of the 13 stages, and finished second overall for a solid haul of championship points.

June was busy with the two-day International Rally of Whangarei as well as Rally Waitomo later in the month. Whangarei bought a new, international opportunity – the Pirelli Star Driver search. The top two drivers in Whangarei would win €5000 to compete in the second Asia Pacific qualifying round in Malaysia in October, and whoever won in Malaysia joined the PSD squad for six World Rally Championship rounds in 2009! Hayden enjoyed a massive battle against Chris West for the outright rally honours, taking four stage wins and finishing second to Chris by just 17 seconds. He also topped the PSD points, against the other favourite Mark Tapper.

At the second June event, the one-day Rally of Waitomo, Hayden was again second to Chris West, keeping his NZRC points ticking along nicely. In July, Hayden and John were fired up, winning five of the six stages run for Rally Hawke’s Bay to beat Richard Mason into second place and earn maximum championship points.

August and the World Rally Championship came to Mystery Creek, Hamilton. NZRC competitors counted days one and two towards the championship but needed to contest all three days to count for the ‘first Kiwi home’ honour. Hayden and Chris West received a Repco Rally New Zealand scholarship providing free entry in the Production WRC class, and an opportunity to prove themselves against international drivers in similar Group N rally cars. To add to the pressure, Hayden could win his first national championship with one round to go... Richard Mason wasn’t giving up without a fight, managing to shut Hayden out of the NZRC category stage wins for both Friday and Saturday. But finishing second meant Hayden and John earned enough points to secure the NZRC title…woohoo! Day three and Richard was out with a mechanical failure, meaning Hayden and John were the first Kiwi crew home in 13th overall! They were also fourth among the Group N competitors, ahead of several internationals. A great event all round.

Next came the opportunity to compete at Rally Malaysia in October and the chance to become the Asia Pacific driver in the inaugural Pirelli Star Driver programme next year. Hayden was up against fellow Kiwi Mark Tapper, rising Australian star Eli Evans and six others. A challenging, slippery rally ensued with major damage to Hayden’s car in Leg One after sliding into an oil palm, and then he lost a lot of time in the first stage of Leg Two when his car had an electrical problem. “We regrouped after the first service stop but Mark was too far in front for us to even think about winning the Pirelli Star Driver competition,” Hayden said.

As they say, what doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger.

In 2009 Hayden retained his New Zealand title, won the Pacific Cup, and also qualified for the Pirelli Star Driver Asia-Pacific final at the 2009 Rally Australia. Hayden was the fastest of the drivers on the opening day's stages, meaning he won the Pirelli Star Driver scholarship, giving him a fully funded programme for six events of the 2010 World Rally Championship season.

Hayden’s event got even better when he finished ninth overall, ahead of all of the PWRC regulars. He also won a $50,000 International Rising Stars Scholarship run by Rally of New Zealand, giving him the additional funding needed to complete a full 2010 PWRC campaign in addition to the PSD events.

The year started with an announcement that Hayden and his co-driver John Kennard would contest the full 2010 FIA Production World Rally Championship (PWRC). The Pirelli Star Driver (PSD) programme was taking them to Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Turkey and Portugal. The first four of these were also PWRC rounds so they added Rally New Zealand and Japan, to meet the minimum of six PWRC events to be eligible for championship points. A full international schedule was underway!

In March Hayden and John participated in the official PSD training programme in Edinburgh, Scotland, before joining the PSD squad in April for the first event in Turkey – all driving identical Ralliart Italy-prepared Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X cars. Hayden’s first WRC event in the Northern Hemisphere started with disappointment, being knocked out of the opening day’s running by a dirt chicane just 8km into the first stage. However, he recovered well, to finish as the top-placed PSD competitor, and 26th overall.

Next up was their home event, Rally New Zealand for the now 23-year-old. Back on familiar roads, everything went brilliantly, and Hayden and John secured a convincing PWRC category win and the maximum 25 points. Using their Paddon Rallysport Mitsubishi Evo 9, they were also the first New Zealand crew home and a very respectable 14th overall.

In May, the abrasive Portuguese roads challenged the Kiwis, requiring them to restart under SuperRally regulations, but the pair persevered to again be the top PSD finishers, 20th overall and ninth in Group N (which included Super 2000).

In July, they contested a second New Zealand event in Whangarei with a simple goal – to demonstrate outright speed. And they did, dominating the International Rally of Whangarei with unassailable lead of three minutes and 55 seconds, winning 13 of 16 stages and setting four new stage records.

August saw them back in Europe for Hayden’s debut at the iconic Rally Finland and a strong third place in the PWRC category and among PSD competitors. Hayden admitted afterward that he’d underestimated how difficult the notoriously fast rally would be but was pleased to achieve his goal of a podium finish.

Later in August, rally commentators described Hayden’s self-assured performance on his first-ever all tarmac event in Germany as “exceptional” after Hayden and John finished second in the Production class and were comfortably the fastest and most consistent of the five Pirelli Star Drivers. The result kept Hayden firmly in third place for this year’s PWRC title.

September saw them take the Paddon Rallysport Mitsubishi to the Japanese island of Hokkaido to tackle its narrow, bumpy, tree-lined roads. Their Japanese debut was certainly testing, but they managed to finish second PWRC, score class wins in 7 of the 8 final day’s stages and 12th position overall. They were still third in the PWRC points battle.

The fast tarmac roads of the French region of Alsace were up next with Hayden and John starting the first day very strongly. But a puncture and an alternator failure ended that day; a spin and three punctures ended day two; and while they did finish the rally – seventh in the PWRC category – they lost the chance to fight for the championship at Rally GB. As Hayden said, you just have to put it down to experience.

November’s Rally GB bought more mechanical woes, but Hayden and John fought back to finish third in class and confirm third place overall in the 2010 FIA Production World Rally Championship – the best result a New Zealander has ever achieved in a world rally championship series!

Months of work went into the establishment of a new company with investors/shareholders prepared to back Hayden’s next goal on the World Rally Championship ladder: winning the Production World Rally Championship. With the new company structure came a change that surprised many – Hayden and John would contest the PWRC in a Subaru!

Their first of six PWRC rounds was Portugal in March. Following a constructive pre-event test with Symtech, the Belgium-based team who supplied and ran the car, Hayden went into his second season of international competition feeling positive. Hayden and John won five of the six stages on Rally de Portugal’s first day to lead the 18-strong PWRC field, many also in Group N Subarus, by 30 seconds. On day two, the Kiwis extended their class lead to 6 minutes, 35 seconds. They wrapped up the slippery, dusty rally with a PWRC class win and the largest winning margin – 7 minutes, 39.3 seconds – in the history of the feeder series to the World Rally Championship!

Two local events came next as Hayden learned all he could about the Impreza WRX STI – using a NZ-built version of the model he was driving in the PWRC. First was the Otago Rally in April with seven stage wins and the rally victory – perfect preparation for the next target of winning Rally New Zealand in May – which they did! New Zealand’s iconic rally was in a non-World Rally Championship year, meaning Hayden and John’s names are now engraved on the RNZ trophy alongside some of rallying’s greats, including Hayden’s hero Colin McRae.

At the end of May came their first-ever rally in South America – Rally Argentina, and their next PWRC challenge. Hayden relished competing on new roads for the first time and together he and John worked hard on their pace notes. Argentina’s notoriously rough and rocky roads were one challenge, a lack of turbo boost in their Subaru another, but they led the PWRC category virtually from start to finish to secure a 7 minute, 50.3s winning margin over second-placed PWRC competitor Patrik Flodin from Sweden to move Hayden into first equal in the PWRC standings. Finishing ninth overall, they also earned two prestigious WRC points.

Back in New Zealand for the International Rally of Whangarei, they won the NZRC category and had to drive flat out to try and catch overall winner Chris Atkinson was great preparation for their next PWRC, Rally Finland in July. The Subaru wasn’t handling to Hayden’s liking early in the rally dubbed the Finnish Grand Prix, but with hard work from the team and Hayden’s consistent determination, they came through to win the PWRC category again and take a healthy 25-point lead in the PWRC standings.

Rally Australia in September offered an extraordinary opportunity – to wrap up the PWRC with two rounds to spare. Hayden was conscious of his 14-strong production category competitors, some of whom were familiar with the roads around Coffs Harbour, NSW, but was determined to run his own rally in the NZ-built Subaru. Hayden and John came through the slippery first day in first place. Mechanical issues on day two saw them lose the category lead, then regain it by just 3 seconds by day’s end. On the final day, they extended their lead to win the PWRC category AND the PWRC title, creating motorsport history at the age of 24. Hayden was the first person from the Southern Hemisphere to ever win a world rally championship. His PWRC title with four consecutive category wins created another record. And they were sixth overall, earning eight WRC points in a Group N production car!

October’s first attempt at the all-tarmac Rally Spain started with a major challenge – not even one stage completed on the first day due to an electrical fault. But they got stuck in on day two, winning five of six stages, and then four of six stages on Sunday to take many positives from the Spanish event.

Hayden and John wrapped up their second international season at Wales Rally GB in a brand-new R4-spec Subaru rally car that was completed by Symtech literally days before the start. While not an official category, they compared themselves to other Super 2000 class competitors and weren’t entered in the PWRC having already won that championship. The event offered different challenges and development opportunities, as they finished 13th overall and second to SWRC class leader Kevin Abbring.

In December, Hayden announced new plans for 2012 with support from key sponsors such as the Giltrap Group – a tilt at the Super 2000 World Rally Championship in a Skoda with Spanish team ASM Motorsport.

Hayden and John finished their first event on snow in February in Sweden with a solid fourth place in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship field.

Two months later they won their first SWRC round in Portugal. It was unexpected after an electrical fault grounded their New Zealand World Rally Team Skoda Fabia on the Friday. Restarting on Saturday, Paddon won every one of that day’s six stages to move into third in class. The final day they moved up into first after their main rival broke down.

In May, Hayden took on a new challenge driving a Ford Escort RS1800 in the classic section of the Otago Rally. He and John won the event outright, becoming the first two-wheel drive to achieve victory in the national championship section since Neil Allport in 1987.

In June, young New Zealand rally driver David Holder was chosen by Hayden as his protégé to be mentored and guided to reach the top level of rallying.

That same month, Hayden won the Brother Rally New Zealand SWRC class in the ASM Motorsport Skoda Fabia. He and John had a massive 33-minute winning margin back to the second placed P-G Andersson.

A decision to change teams mid-season saw Hayden sign with Austrian team Baumschlager Rallye & Racing (BRR). Unfortunately, terminal engine failure ended his debut with BRR at August’s Rally Finland on day two.

The following month, Hayden and John held onto second in the 2012 FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship standings despite issues hampering their Skoda Fabia S2000 rally car for the first of three days at Wales Rally GB.

The pair capped off the event by winning four of the final day’s six stages and finishing seventh in the SWRC category.

Stuck in a ditch, Hayden’s hopes of winning the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship category in Rallye de France disappeared in October. A small driving error where he slid off the road on a slow corner put paid to his goal of cruising through the final day - having held the lead - and also bitterly ended his championship hopes.

The next month, Hayden wrapped up the final event of the 2012 FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship season at RACC Rally de Espana by winning 11 of the 13 SWRC stages that he completed. Red Bull pitched in to help finance this event and Hayden’s Skoda ran in the energy drink company’s livery.

In February Hayden was back behind the wheel of his championship-winning Mitsubishi Evo 9 after he and his team invested more than 1,000 hours rebuilding the car after it was badly damaged in a huge crash in 2011.

The Drivesouth Rally Otago in April was the rebuilt Evo 9’s first outing, where Hayden and John took a handsome victory. Their winning margin was more than four minutes over their nearest competitors Richard and Sara Mason.

They repeated the victorious result at the NZRC’s second round – the International Rally of Whangarei the following month, with a similar four-minute buffer over second place.

In May, Hayden was able to confirm he would be heading back to Europe in July having entered in two FIA World Rally Championship events. He and John are to compete in Neste Oil Rally Finland and ADAC Rallye Deutschland, both in August, using a Skoda Fabia prepared by Austria-based Baumschlager Rallye & Racing (BRR), the same type of car and team with which the Kiwi pair completed the second part of the 2012 season.

Hayden announced his New Zealand World Rally Team had formed a new commercial partnership with Vehicle Inspection New Zealand Ltd (VINZ) in June.

The opportunity came up to contest the Ypres Rally in Belgium at the end of June in a Pirelli-equipped Ford Fiesta S2000 with Symtech Racing - before August’s two WRC events in Finland and Germany - meant Hayden and John would head to Europe earlier than originally planned.

Having won one stage and run in the top five for 13 stages during their first attempt at the specialist tarmac Ypres Rally, Hayden and John were gutted to crash out of the event on the 14th stage.

Early in August Hayden and John Kennard finished third in the WRC Rally Finland in the intensely competitive WRC2 category. Hayden described it as: “Always a great feeling to finish on the podium in Finland, the spiritual home of rallying, and finishing third today gets our 2013 WRC campaign off to a great start. It is also a relief to get back on the podium in the WRC and to be the fastest S2000 competitor over the course of the rally was also pleasing.”

Three weeks later, they secured third place in the WRC2 category again, in the tarmac German round of the WRC. They also netted eighth place overall against all the WRC competitors.

Returning to New Zealand, Hayden and John managed to get to the end of September’s Possum Bourne Memorial Rally, after landing heavily after a jump on the first stage. They took the NZRC’s points’ lead despite Hayden’s Stadium Cars Evo 9 sustaining damage which hampered him through the remaining 10 stages of the one-day event. Thanks to the quick thinking and fast work of his crew, Hayden was at least able to finish in a respectable fourth place.

Competing in September’s Rally Australia in a Skoda Fabia Super 2000-spec rally car, Hayden and John put the pedal to the metal in the final day to win all six stages in their WRC2 category. In total, they were the fastest, or equal fastest, WRC2 competitor through 10 stages, although it was a rally of ‘what could have been’ after an electrical issue prevented them contesting the first day of the event.

Winning the Trust House Racetech Rally Wairarapa at the beginning of October saw Hayden and John become three-time New Zealand rally champions.

At the end of October, Hayden’s dream to drive a WRC car was realised and he piloted a Qatar M-Sport World Rally Team-prepared Ford Fiesta RS world rally car in the mixed surface Rally RACC/Rally de Espana in Spain. He and John completed two days on tarmac followed by a day on gravel, in a credible eighth place amongst the WRC cars.

On Thursday 27 February, Hayden was absolutely thrilled to announce he had signed with Hyundai Motorsport for a six-round WRC programme, starting with Rally Italia Sardegna in June. He became the first New Zealander to secure a professional contract to compete in the WRC. Hayden and John will compete in a Hyundai i20 WRC (World Rally Car), entered as Hyundai Motorsport N with the potential to earn points in both the manufacturers’ and drivers’ championships. The crew will drive alongside the two Hyundai Shell World Rally Team i20 WRC branded cars, driven respectively by Thierry Neuville in #7 and by Juho Hänninen, Dani Sordo and Chris Atkinson sharing the drive in #8.

At their debut event with Hyundai Motorsport, Hayden and John took a top-five stage time on the final day of July’s Rally Italia Sardegna, finishing in 12th place overall in their Hyundai i20 WRC.

Later that month they moved up to a credible eighth place overall at Rally Poland.

A power steering issue didn’t stop Hayden and John from finishing August’s Neste Oil Rally Finland in a solid eighth place in their third WRC event. Their most competitive rally to date in the #20 Hyundai i20 WRC they had two fourth-fastest stage times on Friday morning, and they held a strong sixth place overall after Saturday’s ten stages. Unfortunately, power steering problems on Sunday prevented them from maintaining their excellent run of form and they dropped back to a career best-equalling eighth place by the end of the 26-stage rally.

In September, Hayden and John took their best-ever result in a WRC event with sixth place at the Coates Hire Rally Australia, where they finished the highest of the three Hyundai Motorsport crews. After an intense battle with the Citroën crew of Mads Østberg and Jonas Andersson throughout the event, the Kiwis were perfectly positioned to take advantage of Østberg’s demise with a broken suspension in the penultimate stage of the 20-stage rally based in the New South Wales coastal town of Coffs Harbour.

October would see Hayden and John notch up their first WRC stage win during Friday’s gravel stages at the RACC-Rally de Espana, where they finished with a solid ninth place overall.

In their final 2014 rally, the Kiwi pair earned WRC drivers’ championship points for the fifth consecutive event, wrapping up their debut season with a 10th place at the slippery Wales Rally GB.

Hayden announced in January that he will return to the WRC in 2015 with Hyundai Motorsport with an expanded programme of 12 events at the wheel of a Hyundai i20 WRC car starting with round two, Rally Sweden. He will be backed by backed by partnerships with Kiwi brands Hyundai New Zealand, PlaceMakers and Pak'nSave. Now in their ninth year together, John will continue in the co-driver’s seat.

The New Zealanders kicked the season off with a career-best result, placing fifth place in the snowy, icy Rally Sweden.

Their March debut at Rally Mexico wasn’t as successful with several ups and downs, seeing them eventually finish 17th overall.

The following month Hayden and John took positives, such as their top five pace, away from the Rally Argentina after a tough, incident-packed event. The New Zealanders finished their third event of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship with the Hyundai Mobis World Rally Team in 16th place overall.

They bounced back to form with eighth at Rally Portugal and although Hayden hoped for a top five result, he was encouraged by the relative closeness of his times to the rally’s podium finishers.

It all came together for them at Rally Italy Sardinia in June, with Hayden and John securing a history-making, career-best second place. Hayden described his first-ever WRC podium finish –the best result by a New Zealander in an overseas WRC rally –as a dream result. “To finish on the podium is an absolutely amazing feeling. Words can’t really do justice to how I’m feeling right now. We had a strong weekend from the start, but we just tried to take each stage as it came without looking too much at the timesheets. We knew it would get tougher once we lost the start position advantage so the fact, we could hold our own against the World Champion [Sebastien Ogier] was just fantastic. We had our issues on Saturday afternoon, and thought that was the rally over, but thankfully we pushed on through, kept digging deep and made it through the Sunday in a comfortable second. Considering our buffer to Thierry in third, we took today very easily, not taking any risks and we have a debut podium as a reward. It’s been great to have such support from back home and I’m sorry they’ve had some late nights. I hope it’s been as worthwhile for them as it has been for us. We couldn’t have done this without the team, so my thanks to everyone at Hyundai Motorsport, too. Let’s hope this is the start of more results to come.”

Early the next month the Kiwis secured fourth place in Rally Poland, the second consecutive top-four finish for their 2015 WRC season.

At the beginning of August, Hayden had the disappointment of crashing at the Finnish WRC event. He and John were forced to retire early on Friday afternoon after crashing in stage six and the car was too badly damaged for the team to fix it.

Later that month Hayden described his first tarmac event of his 2015 WRC season as “a trying but educational three days”. He and John secured ninth position in the ADAC Rallye Deutschland - a solid result considering the technical issues the pair experienced on Saturday, the longest day of the rally.

Competing closer to home in September, the Kiwis scored their fourth top-five result of the World Rally Championship season so far with a strong run to fifth overall in Coates Hire Rally Australia. The two New Zealanders competed in the #8 Hyundai i20 WRC rally car for the Hyundai Shell World Rally Team.

Making their debut at the iconic Tour de Corse French WRC event dubbed ‘rally of 10,000 corners’ on the island of Corsica, Hayden and John secured their fifth top-five finish in 2015. A push to lift their performance even higher on the final day saw them leapfrog from seventh to fifth overall.

Sticking with tarmac later in October, the Kiwis finished sixth at Rally Spain, the penultimate 2015 WRC event.

In November they wrapped up their successful season with another strong fifth place –their sixth of the season –on a typically wet and muddy Wales Rally GB. Following gale force winds and persistent rain overnight, the Kiwis started the final Sunday (UK time) leg of four stages in sixth position overall. Setting two fourth quickest and one third-quickest stage times, and with the demise of Ott Tanak, they stepped up another rung on the leader-board to fifth.

In January the New Zealand management company which oversees Hayden and John’s world rallying exploits, Hayden Paddon RallySport Global (HPRG) Ltd, confirmed partnerships with Hyundai New Zealand and Pak’nSave, as well as increased support from Z Energy and the support of associate sponsors Scott Sports and All About Signs in Timaru.

The season didn’t start so positively with Hayden and John retiring on the Friday morning of their debut at the notoriously tricky Rallye Monte-Carlo in January. They re-joined to gain some experience on the icy roads.

They bounced back in February with their first event in the new generation Hyundai i20 WRC car - making history by finishing in second place in Rally Sweden. Hayden became the first non-European driver to finish on the podium on the snow rally which is traditionally dominated by Scandinavian drivers and is now one of only seven non-Scandinavian drivers to have secured second place finishes on this World Rally Championship event.

The Mexican rally in March delivered typical tough, hot conditions and the New Zealanders had several challenges to overcome including two broken suspension arms, mechanical issues created by the high temperatures and heavily gravelled stages. They secured a hard-fought fifth place in what was Hayden’s 50th WRC start.

Later that month Hayden announced he was joining up with Hyundai New Zealand to launch the first-ever New Zealand-developed Hyundai rally car and create a new partnership to benefit the New Zealand rally sport scene. He and John will contest two rounds of the New Zealand Rally Championship in a 1.8-litre, turbocharged Hyundai i20 AP4 rally car.

April 24, 2016 was Hayden’s WRC career highlight day, where he and John made history with their victory at Rally Argentina. They became the first New Zealanders to ever win a round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Hayden delivered the drive of his life on the very last challenge of the rally –the famed, mountainous, rock-strewn El Condor special stage –to wrench the rally victory from three-time WRC champion Sébastien Ogier on Sunday afternoon (Argentinean time). He started Sunday’s final three-stage leg of Rally Argentina in the lead with a margin of 29.8 seconds over Seb. The first fog-affected run through El Condor saw the Frenchman take 7.4 seconds out of Hayden’s lead as the Kiwi lost precious seconds with a gear-change issue. Special stage 17 saw Seb deliver a blistering run which cut Hayden’s lead to a mere 2.6 seconds with just the final power stage to go. But Hayden stood up to the Frenchman’s challenge, saying he drove the wheels off his new generation Hyundai 120 WRC car to secure not only his first power stage win, but also his debut WRC rally win.

“It’s an amazing feeling, to win like this, on the last stage where the odds were a little bit against us. We lost a lot of time in the previous stage and just over two seconds margin going into that last one –I didn’t have a lot of confidence, but we just pushed like hell.”

Perhaps he channelled some fighting spirit as his win came on Monday April 25 in New Zealand - ANZAC Day.

Always searching for improvements and gains, Hayden trialled some new glasses in the following two rallies in Portugal and Sardinia. They were meant to help him process information quicker, but they altered his ability to judge depth and unfortunately, he and John crashed out of both these events after misjudging small sections of the road surface.

Heading into July’s Rally Poland with the pressure on, they released it by finishing in third place. It was the first time the Kiwis have finished on this step of the podium. The result also moved Hayden into third place in the WRC drivers’ championship.

Another top-five result in Finland saw them claim fifth on the high-speed stages. Later in August they moved to tarmac for the ADAC Rallye Deutschland and finished in the same spot.

Their second outing at the twisty tarmac Tour de Corse they dropped one position overall to net sixth place. All that driving on the black top paid off with Hayden and John marking their 100th rally together with their best result to date on a tarmac rally, securing fourth place in Rally RACC Catalunya -Rally de España, in October.

The wet, muddy Welsh roads saw them achieve their second close fourth-place finish in two events. It was the best result the Kiwis have achieved at Wales Rally GB, this being their sixth run here.

They wrapped up the season in November by fighting back to secure fourth place in Rally Australia after a final-day puncture ruined their hopes of a podium finish at the final event Rally Australia.

Tragedy struck on Hayden and John’s first event of the season - the Monte Carlo Rally. A spectator standing on the road died after their Hyundai i20WRC collided with him on the opening stage. Hitting black ice meant Hayden had no control of the car and was unable to avoid the man. Out of respect for him and his family, they withdrew from the event.

Only two weeks later, Hayden overcame both personal and competitive challenges to secure a confidence-boosting seventh place at Rally Sweden.

In March they achieved a fifth place in Rally Mexico, although it wasn’t where Hayden had been hoping to finish.

“It’s certainly been a difficult weekend. Okay, P5 is still some okay points and we can take some positives away from that, but it’s certainly not the performance level we wanted. Obviously, we want more and it feels like we’re in a bit of a trough at the moment. On the brighter side, I’m sure we’re going to come out of it soon and, when we do then we can get the results that we expect and that we know we can achieve. We’ve just got to keep working hard and not give up.

At the notoriously tricky Tour de Corse, he dropped a position to sixth. The similar surface dredging up memories from the Monte Carlo incident.

Returning to the scene of his 2016 WRC win, Hayden was hoping for a top result at Rally Argentina. A slow roll-over on the Friday cost them irretrievable time and dropped them down the pack to a sixth-place finish.

“You could not have written a script more opposite to what we had here last season. We’ve gone from a career high to a result that is much lower on the scale. I just can’t believe our luck,” Hayden said at the time.

It would be Hayden and John’s final WRC rally together as after Argentina the hard decision was made for Hayden to change co-drivers to UK co-driver Sebastian (Seb) Marshall. Seb was scheduled to take over from Hayden’s long-time co-driver John Kennard at Rally Finland in July, but John decided to step out for Portugal on medical advice due to a hip injury.

John says that: “After 12 years as Hayden’s co-driver, it will be hard to lever myself out of that Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC seat for the last time. But our deal has always been that I help Hayden in the most effective way possible and to have been his co-driver for so long, has been incredibly fulfilling and rewarding. When we first got in a car together, in 2006, the dream of winning the WRC seemed so far away, but now, as we push to achieve that ultimate goal, it's timely that we re-arrange roles for maximum effect and to help complete the quest we’re all on –to bring the WRC Championship trophy home to New Zealand.”

Hayden paid tribute to John. “Obviously, John has played a huge part in my career since we started working together at the end of 2005. We have achieved so much together, and it has been quite a journey of highs and lows. It’s certainly sad to end the partnership, but we have been discussing over the last couple of years when was the best for both of us to make the transition with an eye towards the future. I can’t thank John enough for everything he’s contributed in these 12 years, but this is not the end. He will stay involved, helping me behind the scenes and, as he has played an important part in the journey so far, it’s only natural that he remains a part of it.

Hayden and Seb’s first outing together at Portugal saw them achieve four stage wins but technical difficulties forced them out of the event on Friday and again on Saturday.

At the next rally, they experienced the highs of leading Rally Italia Sardegna for eight of the rally’s 19 special stages, and the lows of crashing – twice – to end their hopes of a strong finish.

July’s Rally Poland once again acted as a pressure-releaser as Hayden and Seb secured a hard-fought second place – celebrating their first-ever podium after just three events together. Their Hyundai team-mates Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul took victory, creating Hyundai Motorsport’s first one-two finish since Germany 2014.

Hayden summed up the frustrations they experienced in Finland on the Sunday when yet another mechanical issue saw them retire after the power stage: “It has been one of those weekends for us. After our retirements on Friday and Saturday, we wanted to approach these final stages in a positive manner and to get some time behind the wheel. This rally has perfectly illustrated our season, where anything that can go wrong does go wrong. The power stage was another example, when the car unexpectedly went straight on at a third gear corner. Still, we got to the end of the rally and I am sure, one day in the future, we will look back and laugh at our bad luck this year. I am sure we could have fought for the podium this weekend, and that is the positive that we will take away.

Despite having suffered two punctures over the weekend which cost them time on both the Friday and Saturday

Hayden and Seb finished eighth in the 17-20 August running of the tricky, technical tarmac Rallye Deutschland.

Hyundai Motorsport made the decision to cut Hayden’s 2017 programme, which meant he was forced to miss Rally Spain and Rally GB.

He and Seb ended their 2017 WRC season on a positive note, in the right place at the right time to finish third overall at Rally Australia. It was Hayden’s best result in the Australian WRC round - his previous highest finish was fourth in 2016.

Hayden’s 2018 rally programme was also reduced by Hyundai Motorsport. He and Seb will share the updated #6 Hyundai i20 Coupe world rally car with team-mate Dani Sordo and the Spaniard’s new co-driver Carlos del Barrio. Hayden will contest seven of the 13 rallies and Dani will also contest seven rallies, with the team running four cars in Portugal.

They began their season in Sweden in February, with a strong top five finish. The pair held fourth place overall for most of the second and final days of action on the WRC’s only snow rally. However, an error, described by Hayden as annoying, on the rally’s 19th and final stage, combined with the pace of fifth-placed Esapekka Lappi meant he took fourth in the final rally standings, dropping Hayden into fifth.

The following month Hayden announced he will contest five 2018 New Zealand Rally Championship events among this year’s WRC commitments with Hyundai Motorsport.

“It’s about staying competition fit; and while the events and car maybe different, you cannot substitute being in a competition environment,” the 30-year-old said of his schedule which includes the Otago, Whangarei, South Canterbury, Coromandel and Rally New Zealand NZRC rounds, as well September’s iconic Ashley Forest Rallysprint.

He would go on to win each of the five NZRC events by considerable margins, setting a multitude of new stage records and wrap up the championship a round early. Winning the final round of the NZRC – the Hyundai NZ Raglan Rally of the Coast in October - in his Hyundai i20 AP4+ car, gave Hyundai New Zealand their first-ever NZRC Manufacturers’ Championship title.

Crashing out of WRC Rally Portugal while in the lead – trying to avoid a rock which had rolled onto the road – Hayden injured his back and retired from the May event. With only a few weeks until Rally Italia Sardegna in early June, Hayden underwent some swift back rehab. He and Seb put together a consistent, clean run to bring their Hyundai i20 WRC coupe home in fourth place on the unseasonably rain-drenched roads.

Driving to team orders to secure the best possible Manufacturers’ Championship points for the team, Hayden and Seb finished in a well-deserved fourth place at Rally Finland, in what was the Kiwi driver’s ninth time competing there.

In September they moved up into third at Rally Turkey. Hayden’s first podium of the 2018 season and the seventh WRC podium finish of his career.

The intensity of the competition showed at October’s Rally GB. After three days and 317.74 kilometres of rallying through northern and mid-Wales, just 15 seconds separated Hayden’s Hyundai Motorsport team-mate Thierry Neuville in fifth place and Mads Ostberg in eighth. Hayden was seventh - only 2.5 seconds off his other Hyundai Motorsport team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen who finished sixth.

The following month Hayden and Seb once again wrapped up their season with a strong result at Rally Australia. They finished in second and were the highest-placed Hyundai team.

Just before Christmas, Hayden received the extremely disappointing news that he did not have a WRC drive with Hyundai Motorsport in 2019. They had signed nine-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb on a six-rally deal instead.

2019 heralded a new era for Paddon Rallysport with a renewed international focus from their new HQ at Highlands Motorsport Park in Central Otago, New Zealand. The team now enjoyed great testing facilities literally on their doorstep on the world-class racetrack.

Early in the year Hayden confirmed a new contract with Hyundai New Zealand, with the New Zealand-owned company increasing its support of both the Kiwi driver personally and Paddon Rallysport to undertake a swathe of new projects.

The plan was to use the Hyundai i20 AP4 car to contest Rally Otago in April and May’s International Rally of Whangarei which were part of the new Pacific Cup category of the FIA Asia Pacific Championship. Following that was Hayden’s ‘home’ event, the South Canterbury Rally in June before the team converted the Hyundai into its 800bhp hillclimb spec to tackle the Ashley Forest Rallysprint in September.

John co-drove for Hayden at Rally Otago in April, where they broke all but one stage record as he piloted the Hyundai i20 AP4+ to their fourth consecutive victory in Otago with a massive winning margin of 7min 16sec.

In May, up-and-coming co-driver Samantha Gray stepped into the co-driver’s seat for the International Rally of Whangarei. They survived a broken axle on the Saturday, denying them a clean sweep on all 18 special stages on Hayden’s fifth win in Whangarei. Hayden’s overall winning margin ahead of NZRC driver Ben Hunt was 4min 16.7secs, despite time loss caused by the (quickly-replaced) broken axle. The Otago and Whangarei victories gave Hayden maximum points for the FIA Pacific Cup.

Then Hayden confirmed he’d contest the Eureka Rush Rally in a Hyundai i20 R5 in August, which counted for the FIA Pacific Cup as the sixth round of the FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship.

In June, the team released their four-part, behind-the-scenes documentary series, called ‘Driven’ created by young videographer Jack Smith.

Next up was the Rally of South Canterbury with Hayden and Samantha taking a comfortable victory in the one-day rally. In the three seasons to date, the Hyundai i20 AP4 had contested 12 rallies and 148 special stages to accumulate 10 rally wins and 141 stage wins.

Hayden headed to France in late June for a guest appearance in the 2019 Titans-RX Europe rallycross series, an experience he described as a lot of fun.

He and John returned to Europe in July with an exciting opportunity to drive for the M-Sport WRC team at Rally Finland. A high speed crash during testing meant they never even got to start the rally, a situation Hayden described as completely gutting. He told “When you come to a test, you have to drive the car, you have to push the car to make it work. You can’t just drive around. Having said that, after the accident I thought about things and asked myself ‘so, what would I have done differently?’ And the answer is actually nothing. That’s one of the things that’s actually so hard to accept.”

August was a busy month with Hayden and Samantha competing in the Hyundai R5 at the Eureka Rush Rally. They finished third overall and top of the FIA Pacific Cup points-table, adding another championship title to Hayden’s collection.

Then came the publication of ‘Driven’, Hayden’s autobiography published by Penguin Random House covering his commitment to rallying from a very young age, and his many highs and lows on the local and international rally scene.

Biggest of all was Paddon Rallysport’s unveiling of the prototype Hyundai Kona EV rally car to the world. National and international media were keen to find out more about one of the world’s first electric rally cars and Hayden was equally keen to demonstrate the fresh thinking behind the car and where he feels it fits in world motorsport in the future.

The team wrapped up the year’s domestic competition with an outstanding win at the iconic Ashley Forest Rallysprint in North Canterbury. With the Hyundai i20 AP4 in ++ mode, Hayden shattered the 1.7km hillclimb’s record with a blistering time of 52.77.

Hayden and John headed for Great Britain in October to contest Wales Rally GB with M-Sport in an R5 car. They delivered several stage wins in the WRC2 category, but a spin, two punctures and then a turbo issue saw them finish out of the top places.

More disappointment came in November with the cancellation of Rally Australia due to bushfires when Hayden and John had another opportunity to compete with M-Sport in a WRC car. This was countered by the announcement that the team would run the inaugural Ben Nevis Station Golden 1200 Hillclimb on New Zealand’s highest public road in the high country of Central Otago the following March.

2020 started with great positivity – a goal to win three rally championship titles.

First was to be another New Zealand Rally Championship. Second was to add in enough Australian events to win the FIA Pacific Cup for the second consecutive year. Third was to also take out the outright FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship title 20 years since another New Zealander, the infamous Possum Bourne, last won the APRC.

In March, Hayden and the team got the year underway in winning form, using the Hyundai AP4 in hillclimb mode to win the inaugural Ben Nevis Station Golden 1200 Hillclimb, an event they also developed and managed.

Of a weekend when he was both driver and event organiser, Hayden said: “I probably had an unfair advantage, but you’ve got to take it when you can. Huge thanks to everyone who’s been part of it. We’ve set a benchmark for next year. The Hyundai has run absolutely faultlessly so huge thanks to the guys. The driving was the easiest part of the weekend to be fair!”

Then Covid happened. Everyone’s plans had to wait, and all rallies were cancelled…

So Paddon Rallysport kept to themselves and focused on the design, development and fabrication of the Hyundai Kona EV rally car.

They worked as hard as they could and despite Covid’s best efforts to interrupt the arrival of various components, Hayden and his six-strong team of engineers and designers revealed the completed, fully functional Hyundai Kona EV rally car to the world at a launch at Hyundai Motors New Zealand in Auckland in November.

The project marked a significant milestone in New Zealand automotive and motorsport history, with 80 per cent of the car designed in-house in terms of chassis design, engineering, aerodynamics, suspension, steering, cooling and electrics. Austrian company Stohl Advanced Research and Development (STARD) contributed to the project as Paddon Rallysport’s technical partner, providing guidance and advise.

Another sad casualty of Covid was Rally New Zealand which was meant to return to New Zealand’s shores in September. As lockdowns allowed, RNZ organisers took the opportunity of showcasing the fantastic rally roads north of Auckland with a one-day City of Auckland Rally in November. Regrettably, the following day, Hayden crashed heavily at the Battle of Jacks Ridge, the disappointment pretty much summing up a challenging year.

The new year got underway with similar goals to the previous year – to contest the full New Zealand Rally Championship and also the Australian rounds of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship if Covid travel restrictions allowed.

Hayden and John were happy to earn their 5th consecutive win of Rally Otago, with a winning margin of over 7.5 minutes, paying credit to the hard work put in by the team to rebuild the car following the crash last November.

They went on win the International Rally of Whangarei in May, to top the NZRC points-table.

Everything continued to plan at June’s Rally of South Canterbury on Hayden’s his home roads. This win meant Hayden was only five points away from securing the NZRC driver’s championship with two rounds still to go.

Hayden wrapped up his fifth New Zealand Rally Driver’s Championship at the one-day Rally Hawke’s Bay in July, while John secured his fourth New Zealand Rally Co-driver’s Championship title. Hayden paid due credit to his Paddon Rallysport crew who prepared the Hyundai to run faultlessly as the pair won every stage.

Next was the exciting, history-making debut of the Hyundai Kona EV rally car at the Waimate 50 Motorsport Festival. With MotorSport New Zealand having released their electric vehicle guidelines, car clubs organising events now had safety guidelines to work with for this technology which is new for New Zealand motorsport.

Hayden and the five-strong team at Paddon Rallysport saw two years of hard work come to fruition with the 4km rallysprint coming at the right time for the car’s development timeline as the team gathered more data for their continued development work. In another first for the EV rally car project, Paddon Rallysport fitted the car with a prototype mechanical sound device, a project 18 months in the making, not long before the first timed run.

Running in the unlimited 4WD class against 50 entrants, Hayden set the faster and faster times for each run to win the event, making this the perfect competition debut for the Kona EV.

First Rally

2002 Hanmer Rally (Age 15)


John Kennard - Co-driver

JOHN KENNARD - Co-driver

Coming from a long and lustrous career in rallying spanning back to the 1970’s, John has been involved both as a co-driver and team management roles with many different teams around the world – most notably the Subaru World Rally Team.

Joining Hayden in 2006, they achieved a huge amount both within New Zealand and globally as they worked together as a team aiming towards the same ultimate goals. The co-driver's role in the car is hugely important and highly underrated, as the co-driver delivers the all important ‘rally winning’ pace notes at milli second accuracy.


Being a rally or race driver does not necessary mean big budgets and the fastest cars. It means having fun, enjoying the driving from club level all the way to national, and there be a measurable progression forward through different classes and levels. Find out all you need to know below.


How much experience do you need?


Finding Funding


What happens at service


Choosing the right tyres


Purpose of testing


How to make your own pace notes


What is Recce


Setting up your car

Episode 4

Modifying your car

Episode 3

Buying your first car


How to adapt to different surfaces


How to get started in Motorsport

Being a rally or race driver does not necessary mean big budgets and the fastest cars. It means having fun, enjoying the driving from club level all the way to national, and there be a measurable progression forward through different classes and levels. First of all there are two key components before you can drive in your first event

Driver requirements
  • In New Zealand you have to be over the age of 12 to obtain a motorsport license. At this stage you are restricted on what events you can do as you will be unable to do any public road events – more circuit or paddock type events (autocross, Motorkhana, sprints etc).
  • First you need to buy a car club membership. There are many different clubs all around New Zealand, and all you have to do is contact the club closest to you and ask to join. They will be more than helpful. You can see the full list of car clubs here:
  • Once you have your car club membership you will need a motorsport license. To obtain this you will need to call Motorsport NZ (Wellington phone number (04) 815 8015) and ask them to send you a motorsport manual book. You will then need to study some aspects of this, particularly the safety aspects of the events, responses to emergencies and the running of events (which ever form of motorsport you wish to participate in).
  • Once you have studied, contact your car club to ask to sit your license test. They will help you arrange the details of where/when to sit your test. You will also need to take along a completed motorsport license application form which you can find at this link:
  • Once you have passed your test and sent your application form (postal details on the application form) along with the applicable fee, you are ready to go.
  • If you are wanting to compete in a 1 off event to see if it is for you, you can purchase a 1 day/event motorsport license if you carry a civil drivers license. To do this, contact your local car club using the above information/link.

Driver equipment

  • To start with club events you will need some basic driver equipment. You will need a helmet, driver overalls and I would recommend driving boots and gloves. I would also recommend a full set of nomex race underwear, which, while is not compulsory for most forms of club/regional motorsport, is an extra layer of safety in case of fire. There are several suppliers around New Zealand although I recommend (Auckland), (Wellington) or (Christchurch) who have equipment for club competitors all the way through to the gear we use at International level. They, or anyone else will be more than helpful with what you need.
  • This is obviously one of the key components and you don’t need a fast 4WD/turbo car to start with like some people think. My first car was a Mini that I brought for $500. It was our intention to have a slower car that I could learn to ‘out drive’ rather than having a faster car that drove me. And no matter what car, you will always have fun.
  • For club level events, such as Motorkhana’s/Autocross and some sprints, a general purpose road car can be used without the need for a rollcage (ask Mum nicely for her car maybe). Obviously we would recommend all safety equipment such as roll cages, seats and harnesses, but to start with you can use your daily car. To do this you will need a fire extinguisher mounted to the passenger floor at minimum and a car in WOF condition.
  • If you are looking to buy a club/starter car, I would recommend a 2WD car (RWD for fun, FWD for speed/future driver development). General websites such as Trademe are a good starting point, but also speaking to your local car club, as they will know what different competitors are doing within their club.
  • To start in full rallies, I would recommend starting with regional rallies/championships. If you have a club car that has a log book and authority card (all obtainable through, current WOF and reg, then you can use this same car for rallies.
  • If you are building a rally car, some key areas that must be correct in order to get the car certified from Motorsport NZ:
    • A car that can be registered for road use, correct chassis numbers, etc.
    • Fitment of approved design rollcage (can be found in Motorsport manual or online) and fitted correctly. Once fitted, photos and rollcage papers must be submited to Motorsport NZ for approval. Once approved, you can apply for your logbook, which you need to be able to obtain an authority card.
    • Correct spec seats and harnesses(if building club car, SFI or FIA spec is suitable, if building a national class car stricter rules apply, which can be found in the motorsport manual).
    • All the above then needs to be listed and approved to apply for your authority card.
    • To have your car eligible for rallies, you must have current:
      • Registration
      • Warrant of fitness
      • Logbook
      • Authority card
      • Compliance (if classic car or modifications have been made as per LTSA law)
  • If you are building a rally car on a budget and plan to make modifications 1 step at a time, my opinion on the order of importance would be:
    • Mudflaps and underbody protection
    • Racing/performance brake pads and fluid (high temp fluid)
    • Good used or new rally tyres
    • Suspension, or at very least better springs
    • Limited slip diff
    • Close ratio gearbox
    • Engine (important but for me last on the list, first and foremost the car must handle well)
  • Safety is paramount and I would strongly recommend good seats, belts and helmet. I also use a HANS device, which while a little more expensive, is a very good investment for the well being of the driver and co-driver in case of an accident. There are also other neck restraint systems on the market which could be explored.
Types of events

These events you can use a normal road car or a competition car for:

Motorkhana is a cheap and enjoyable form of motorsport where you can use any vehicle and it is primarily a test of driver skill. Events are normally held on smooth grass or tarseal with the driver having to negotiate a set course at low speed. Penalties apply for going the wrong way, hitting markers, etc.

Autocross is the ideal environment in which to learn or improve car control skills. A circuit is usually laid out (using hay bales or plastic cones) on a large grass, tarseal or gravel area and competitors compete individually at speed against the clock.

Sprints (Basic)
Sprints are a relatively inexpensive form of motorsport and yet very competitive. Sprints are a test of the vehicle’s performance and the driver’s ability to control the vehicle. Competitors must be a member of a Member Club or Associate Member Club.
Standing Sprint (Single Car) – held on either country roads or on a permanent drag strip.
Circuit Sprint (Single Car) – this is a good event if you would like an introduction to what racing can be like.

For the below events you would need a club level or full competition car

Hillclimbs are generally the highest form of motorsport that can be competed in using a normal road car. The finish line must be at a higher altitude than the start line, and the course must be mostly uphill, on a private or public road, with either a gravel or tarseal surface. Hillclimbs are generally classed as high speed events, where competitors compete individually against the clock.

Rally Sprint
Rally sprints are for vehicles prepared for rallies. They are held on closed road venues with the course being limited to a maximum of 10km. The course, and the way it is organised, is the same as for a rally special stage and gives the competitors the opportunity to both practice the skills and acquire the knowledge required for rallying. The winner of a rally sprint is the competitor who takes the least amount of time to complete the course. Your vehicle must comply with Motorsport Schedule R, and a co-driver is required, who must also adhere to the Club Sport requirements.

Sprints are a relatively inexpensive form of motorsport and yet very competitive. All sprints are a test of the vehicle’s performance and the driver’s ability to control the vehicle. The winner is the competitor with the fastest time and speed over a measured distance.
Bent Sprint (Single Car) – Run on a road course (gravel or sealed) which has at least one bend or curve.
Circuit Sprint (Dual Car) – Run on a sealed circuit. Paired cars may be started at intervals of 5 seconds or more and this is a good introduction to racing, but with less risk then a race meeting.
Circuit Sprint (Multi Car) – Run on a sealed circuit. This is your best introduction to a “real” race situation. You and five other cars compete in a short race with a grid start.

All this leads to the 2 ultimate types events for motorsport in New Zealand, rallying and/or circuit racing. You would need to do some of the above events first to learn the basics of how events run and driving your car, before starting your first rally or race meeting.

Funding your passion

This is a key element, however motorsport does not need to be expensive, particularly at club level. Your biggest expenses will be starting up and this will depend on how much you want to intially invest. As a rough estimation, if you are starting with nothing (not including the car) approx. costs could be:

  • Car club membership and motorsport licenses, $120-$250 (depending on age)
  • Safety equipment (minimum helmet and overalls), $300-$1,000 (depending on what level of equipment you want)

If you are using your road car, or a starter club car, that you already have, then you may use 1 set of tyres every 3-4 events, and maybe use 10-20 liters of fuel per event. Entry fees can be as little as $20 for paddock type events. Within car clubs they will have championships that you can compete in, which would include a series of smaller club events. You could do a full 6-8 event club championship for as little as $500, if you don’t break your car. If you break your car, you may be walking to work on Monday 

Of course sponsorship is one way to fund your hobby and the best place to start with all this is to set yourself up and be ready to compete. This way people will see you are serious and have dedicated time to your hobby. Secondly, I would start by talking with people you know who may know someone else (2 degrees of separation in NZ). To get a company to invest in you, you need to show them value for money. When I started racing, I approached local businesses in my home town of Geraldine and sold my story and dream. We got 13 businesses on board at $100 each (which to them was not a lot) which funded a whole season for me in the Mini. While at club level it is debatable how much value you can offer companies, it is also about creating the feel good factor and making the given company proud of being involved with you. This can be generated by ride days, invitations to join you at events and really let them share the experience with you.

I would, at minimum, put together a 1 page proposal, outlining who you are, your season’s goals, what you will do for them (name on car, displays, hand out promotional items) and costs. But with costs, make sure you give them options. Sponsorship is about providing something that suits that particular person, or company and this is different for everyone, which is why you need options. This is very basic, but if you can get a foot in the door and build a relationship, then it could lead to bigger things as you progress forward in the sport.

Now you are ready to go have fun and go sideways. Remember to always stay safe, and there will always be plenty of people within your car club that will help. There will also be a social side to the club, where you will be able to socialize and create lifetime friends. Enjoy!

So you want to be involved in the car, but don’t think you have the knack of driving. Well then co-driving could be for you. In fact, before I drove I co-drove my father for several years and the adrenalin rush and pure excitement was second to none. Like drivers, you can co-drive from the age of 12.

Starting out co-driving

  • Like a driver, you will need to obtain a car club license and motorsport license first (see 1. Driver tab above)
  • Study the motorsport manual on how rallies work and run. As a co-driver it is important you understand how events run and what does/could happen on event.
  • Within the motorsport manual you will also see examples on how timecards look and work (the single biggest controlling factor to a rally). It is important that you fully understand how timecards work.
  • I would suggest starting on ‘blind’ rallies, and by this I mean events where there are no pace notes. This will then help you to learn how rallies run and you get time to focus on the time-keeping side of things. On ‘blind rallies’ you are given a route book with diagrams that you follow at major junctions (with the aid of a tripmeter) to get to/from stages, while in the stages junctions and cautioned sections are also included, so you can warn your driver of them. Then, after a while, you may want to progress to national type rallies where there are pace notes supplied. There is no trick on how you read pace notes, it is a timing thing that you need to keep doing and work on with your driver to get it right. There is no right or wrong way (as long as you call the correct corners).
  • Later, when your driver is ready, you can progress to writing your own pace notes during a limited reconnaissance of the competitive stages on full National or International events. This is where you drive over the open stages in a road car at normal road speed or below, usually in a convoy the day before the rally, and the driver describes what he sees. The co-driver writes this down in their own shorthand as the pace notes and this information is then read back on the rally as the drivers own pace notes.
Co-driver equipment
  • Current motorsport license and car club membership (as per driver)
  • Approved helmet and overalls (for the level of rallying you are doing ie, club vs national). Race boots are not nessecary, but are reccomended as they are fire proof. The same goes for race underwear.
  • Stop watch or wrist watch.
  • Pens and pencils (plenty, you will loose them).
  • Co-driver bag or duffle bag to put books, rally organisational things in.
How to find a driver to co-drive for?

  • After joining your local car club, I would then ask the representatives of the car club who may know people looking for a co-driver, or go along to a hill climb or small event and start meeting some of the drivers. At some stage they will be doing rallies, and sometimes there is a shortage of co-drivers. Once you start co-driving and gaining experience, you could then promote your availaibity on social media and you never know who might just read your post.

Motorsport is a team sport, and the team personnel and mechanics for each team play a pivotal role. Being involved with a team is a great way to be involved in motorsport and to feel a part of the action. This would be one of the easiest ways to get involved in motorsport. Although you do not have to be a member of a car club, or have a motorsport license, I would still recommend joining a car club, so that you can stay up to date with events and meet people in the right circles.

How to get involved with a team?

  • I would attend local car club events. Most local club drivers/teams will have little or no crew, and every little bit of help will be appreciated by most competitors. It would be a matter of making yourself known and offering help where you think it looks like it’s needed. From there, you could build relationships and start building yourself a reputation within the club.
  • Being involved with a team does not necessarily mean just helping during events, it could also mean helping prepare car/service vehicles prior to and after events. It’s also a great social circle to be involved in.
  • In New Zealand most team personnel/mechanics will donate their time with their expenses being paid. But what better way to travel, watch motorsport and be part of a team! Of course there are opportunities both within New Zealand and around the world to be involved in professional teams, so if this is something you would like to pursue, you will need some sort of motor trade qualifications and experience behind you. Hyundai Motorsport are regularly employing new staff.

Volunteers are the heart of our sport and go massively under the radar. Without the thousands of volunteers in NZ, there would be no motorsport and all drivers/teams are fully aware and appreciative of how much volunteers are needed to enable our sport to continue. There are many different volunteer positions involved in motorsport, from admin, marshals, safety, recovery, timing, running of events, setting up events etc., and there is no such thing as too many volunteers, so you are promised that there will always be opportunities. What better way to have a sense of accomplishment than to be a part of a successful motorsport event, witnessing people enjoying themselves and being up close and personal with the action.

 How can you get involved?

  • Although not essential, I would recommend joining your local car club (see link above). By doing this it would give you an introduction to the club and also keep you up to speed with happenings within the club.
  • Contact the secretary or club caption of your car club and offer your services for any upcoming events. I’m sure they will gratefully accept your offer and although they may not give you answers on the spot, leave your details with them and they will come back to you.
  • If you want to be involved in the medical, safety or recovery aspects of volunteering, then there may be some license/training requirements needed, for which your local car club will be able to point you in the right direction. Information can also be found on

The above are some of the main aspects of how you could get involved in motorsport and are solely based on our opinions/knowledge.  Official, up-to-date information should be sort and can be found at any of the following links.

Motorsport NZ (Governing body) –

List of NZ Motorsport clubs –

Motorsport NZ license application forms –

Motorsport NZ authority card application form –

Motorsport NZ logbook application form –

South Canterbury Car Club (Hayden’s club) –

Ashburton Car Club (the club Hayden started in) –

Chicane Racewear (Race equipment, Auckland) –

Racetech (Race equipment, Wellington) –

Palmside (Race equipment, Christchurch) –

Purchase competition car –

International car purchases –


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