Paddon hopeful of Aussie return after Canberra withdrawal

International rally star Haydon Paddon will be unable to compete in the Netier National Capital Rally as a result of the current travel restrictions between Australia and New Zealand.

While the New Zealander is technically able to make it to Australia for the RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship’s (ARC) first round in March, he would not be able to go back home for another three months due to New Zealand’s availability of quarantine places.

Having already committed to competing in the full New Zealand Rally Championship this year, a delayed return would mean Paddon would miss the opening three rounds of the championship, which proved a major factor in his decision.

The 33-year-old was confirmed to run in Canberra next month behind the wheel of the Walkem Motorsport prepared Hyundai i20 R5, with potential to compete in the full ARC.

Announcing his withdrawal from the rally via social media, Paddon was hopeful he could get back to Australia at one point this year.

“It’s with a heavy heart that we confirm we will be unable to make the first round of the Australian Rally Championship with Walkem Motorsport and their Hyundai R5 next month,” Paddon wrote on Facebook.

“While we are able to travel to Australia, current travel restrictions would then mean we would not be able to get back into NZ until July, missing the first 3 rounds of the NZ Championship.

“We are committed to still get to Australia and will have to remain patient to see how the travel situation evolves.

“A massive thank you to Marcus, Graeme and the whole Walkem team for their patience and commitment, and we look forward to hitting the Australian gravel stages as soon as we can.”

With Paddon now missing the opening rounds of the Championship, Marcus Walkem is likely to step in as his replacement in the speedy R5 car.

The 2021 RSEA Safety Motorsport Australia Rally Championship begins next month with the Netier National Capital Rally on 26-28 March.

Photo: Wishart Media