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Paddon Aiming to Electrify Rally With Hyundai Project

Hayden Paddon to run his own electric Hyundai rally car in New Zealand next year…

Photo: Paddon Rallysport

The electric rally car project spearheaded by Hayden Paddon addresses a “gap in the market”, according to the New Zealander rally star, who plans to finish development of the car in the coming months.

The initiative to build an electric rally car based on the Hyundai Kona has been underway for several months and is led by the former FIA World Rally Championship regular through his Paddon Rallysport company.

Paddon plans for development to be finished by May, leading into a testing program throughout the remainder of 2020. The car will then compete in the New Zealand Rally Championship in 2021.

Design and development is carried out in-house by Paddon Rallysport in Cromwell, New Zealand, using components from STARD, the Austrian company behind the Projekt E electric rallycross series.

“I think there is a big gap in the market there, and rally is where my core passion and belief is, and obviously what I’ve always ground up around,” Paddon explained to e-racing365.

“It’s trying to find a solution for this technology in the rally environment, which we haven’t really seen so far. You see a lot of EV technology in all other forms of motorsport nowadays but rally is the one area I feel it’s lacking.

“There’s a perceived idea that the format of rallies and the tradition of our sport doesn’t suit the technology at the moment because of the long range and the remoteness of some of the events.

“We’re going through a process at the moment to showcase that we can make it work in a rally environment.

“Obviously there are some big challenges around it but New Zealand presents a good opportunity for us to take those challenges head-on with a little bit more openness in the rules here and a little bit more compact events.

“That gives us a good test bed to get the project up and running and then use the New Zealand environment and events to actually develop the technology.”

Ahead of next year’s full race debut in the New Zealand Rally Championship, a series in which Paddon is four-time champion, the car is set for public debuts later in 2020.

“This year we’ll do a couple of short-form events and the plan is to have it at WRC Rally New Zealand this year and maybe demo it on a couple of the short stages to showcase the performance,” Paddon said.

“We’re focused on a couple of short events but championship-wise, the idea is to have it in the championship next year.”

Looking to the future, Paddon is enthusiastic about the adoption of electric technology in rallying, and is aiming to use his project to help electrify his branch of motorsport.

“At the moment we’ve been dealing predominantly with Motorsport New Zealand so we’ve got a close relationship with the governing body here to establish guidelines on how we can expand this technology in this part of the world,” he said.

“Obviously, working with STARD, we’re well aware of the FIA guidelines at the moment and this package that we’ve got from STARD is in line with those guidelines.

“Once the car is up and running come May this year, I think it will be a lot easier to showcase to people such as the FIA what we’ve got, what we can do, and then of course we’d like to work with governing bodies around the world to help speed up the process to get this technology into our sport.”

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist who is e-racing365's Managing Editor and also European Editor for Sportscar365. He is a student of Politics and International Relations at the University of Birmingham. Contact Jake

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