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Youngest Rally Champ To Compete On World Stage

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Youngest Rally Champ To Compete On World Stage

New Zealand's youngest ever national rally champion has moved a step closer to his goal of becoming world rally champion, winning a $1m support package to compete in the 2010 World Rally Championship (WRC).

Twenty-two-year-old Hayden Paddon, a graduate of Motorsport New Zealand's Elite Academy, won one of five, internationally contested, Pirelli Star Driver packages during the 2009 Rally Australia.

Paddon is the second academy graduate to win the prize after Mark Tapper won it in 2008.

The Group N package, provided by Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) and tyre manufacturer Pirelli, fully funds drivers for six rounds of the 2010 WRC, an opportunity that is beginning to hit home for the young Kiwi.

"The magnitude of what we're going to be doing next year is just starting to sink in," said Paddon. "It is exciting to think that I'll be rubbing shoulders with people I've looked up to for years; I still can't really believe it. Since I can remember, I've wanted to be the world rally champion, so this is a huge step in the right direction."

Motorsport New Zealand president Steven Kennedy is delighted that the talented young driver has received the much deserved international recognition.

"Hayden has had a remarkable rally career to date," Mr Kennedy said. "He is consistently competing at the highest level in New Zealand and this opportunity to challenge the best in the world is testament to his hard work and dedication.

"He's has moved from strength to strength both in his driving ability and his conduct as a sportsman and role model," said Mr Kennedy. "This year he received a Motorsport New Zealand President's Scholarship in recognition of his achievements and international potential and it's wonderful to see our investment in young talent paying off," he said.

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