World Rally Championship event winner Hayden Paddon will take part in the inaugural TCR New Zealand series in 2020, racing a Hyundai i30 N for his Paddon Rallysport Group team in his first major attempt at circuit racing.
Paddon will take part in the opening three events of the new series, at Highlands, Teretonga and Hampton Downs respectively in his PRG Hyundai.
The car has been purchased second-hand from an Italian team, with the team having recently taken delivery of the chassis.
“TCR is a successful formula and it has taken off all around the world,” said Paddon. “It’s exciting for me to confirm that I will contest the opening rounds.
“It offers an even playing field between different cars and different drivers and it has proven to a formula that is working.
“Our team decided to get involved because we’re trying to branch out and look at new horizons. It’s the chance for the team to develop, try new avenues in the sport and continually push to get the most out of ourselves.”
The team, which is based at the Highland Motorsports Park near Queenstown, will undertake a learning curve as it transitions from rallying to circuit racing for the first time.
Paddon himself will also have a new craft to learn, having competed in rallying for more than a decade, and the WRC scene for the past ten years.
The 32-year-old won in the WRC in 2016, and he has also lifted the New Zealand Rally Championship four times, meaning he will head into TCR with a strong motorsport pedigree.
“I’ve done no circuit racing at all. Our race team is based at Highlands, so I’ve had the chance to drive plenty of different cars on tarmac, but never on a racetrack with other cars around me, so obviously there is going to be a lot to learn.
“I’m really excited for the challenge. We want to go out and enjoy ourselves, but at the same time, it’s a chance to learn a new discipline of the sport. I’m really looking forward to it.”
TCR New Zealand gets underway at Highlands on January 17 – 19 and the season will be complete by mid-February, when it concludes at Manfield.