Age 6 (Go-karts)
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.
Seb Marshall has been involved in professional co-driving for many years, starting at grass roots level in the UK, before many campaigns in support championships of the WRC. Seb has grown up working hard and dreaming about being a WRC champion, in the same way Hayden has. Hayden and Seb first met within Hyundai Motorsport when Seb was working with another driver. Then following discussions with then current co-driver John Kennard, a plan was put in place to swap co-drivers with a view towards the future. This plan took place over 2 years, and a key step of that was Seb stepping in to do all testing with Hayden during 2016. Their first event together was Rally San Remo driving an Hyundai R5, where they finished 2nd. Then their WRC debut was soon after at Rally Portugal 2017. Hayden and Seb have built a strong friendship and trust that will build as they look to build a long term partnership in the WRC.
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.
Based in Alzenau Germany, Hyundai Motorsport was launched in 2013 for their return to the WRC. With over 200 employees everyone in the team is as dedicated and motivated as each other to succeed. Every role in the team is as vital as each other, from designers, engineers, technicians, admin, logistics and marketing. The best team in the WRC.
Katie Lane is PR and Marketing Manager.
Hayden and Rui first worked together in 2011 on their way to winning the Production World Rally Championship. Re united in 2015, Rui plays a key role to help Hayden extract the most from himself and the car. Analyzing data, tactical planning and car set-up engineering are just some of his key roles.
The personnel involved within HPRG are all Kiwi’s, working hard and helping Hayden to achieve his goal. Long term partner Katie Lane has been a pivotal part of the marketing and PR side, helping Hayden to keep in touch with fans and the media around the world, as well as working with our partners.
Hayden’s father Chris has played a massive role since he started some 19-20 years ago and now plays a big part as a director of HPRG in helping to guide his career. Chris is also joined by two local South Canterbury business owners, Peter Swaney and Peter Anderson who are also directors within the company that has helped Hayden go from NZ Champion to World Champion. HPRG was set up in 2011 to help aid the teams battles to firstly find the seven figure budgets to compete in the WRC, and then to stay there over the following years. Within HPRG there are many dedicated, loyal and supportive shareholders who have helped, and continue to help make the dream a reality.
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.
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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 eventDriver requirements
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 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 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:
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
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?
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?
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) – www.motorsport.org.nz
List of NZ Motorsport clubs – www.motorsport.org.nz/about/clubs
Motorsport NZ license application forms – www.motorsport.org.nz
Motorsport NZ authority card application form – http://www.motorsport.org.nz/sites/default/files/motorsport/forms/T007%20Authority%20Card%20Application_1.pdf
Motorsport NZ logbook application form – http://www.motorsport.org.nz/sites/default/files/motorsport/forms/T001%20Vehicle%20Logbook%20Application_1.pdf
South Canterbury Car Club (Hayden’s club) – http://www.southcanterburycarclub.org.nz
Ashburton Car Club (the club Hayden started in) – http://www.ashburtoncarclub.org.nz/cms/index.php
Chicane Racewear (Race equipment, Auckland) – www.chicane.co.nz
Racetech (Race equipment, Wellington) – www.racetech.co.nz
Palmside (Race equipment, Christchurch) – www.palmside.co.nz
Purchase competition car – www.trademe.co.nz
International car purchases – www.rallycarsforsale.net
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