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New Zealand's Hayden Paddon will contest the FIA Super 2000 World Rally Championship in 2012, competing in a Skoda Fabia S2000 with the support of new sponsors and a new Spanish team, it has been confirmed.

Having successfully won the Production WRC title in 2011 - the first driver from the Southern Hemisphere to ever do so - Paddon is forging ahead with his international competition goals by climbing to the next rung on the ladder of world rallying. The Super 2000 World Rally Championship (SWRC) is the key feeder series for the main game, the FIA World Rally Championship, and it's an important and exciting step forward for the likeable and talented Kiwi.

Paddon's SWRC plan was announced today [December 20] after several months of talks with various European teams and sponsors.

“I am ecstatic about the move to Super 2000; it's a fantastic opportunity,” said the 24-year-old. “I was lucky enough to test the Skoda Fabia S2000 in Europe a couple of months ago and it was an incredible car to drive. The S2000 is a full blown racecar and is basically a WRC car without the aero and turbo.”

Paddon's car will be run by ASM Motorsport, based in Barcelona and Paddon, with long-time partner Katie Lane, will move to the Spanish city.

“Several key personnel at ASM Motorsport have been involved with the Skoda and Seat world rally teams in the past and they are very enthusiastic and passionate about this project. The target for the whole team is to win the championship,” Paddon continued.

One factor in the team's decision to move to the S2000 Skoda is related to the fact that Skoda's parent company Volkswagen has confirmed its entry into the WRC in 2013. VW management signed star French driver Sebastien Ogier last month, confirming Ogier will compete in all rounds of the 2012 WRC in a similar Skoda S2000 car to the one Paddon will drive and thus providing an outstanding benchmark for all SWRC competitors.

“Sebastien is one of the fastest drivers in the WRC at present and having the chance to compete with him will be an honour and also a challenge,” Paddon added. “It will help us to lift to another level and while he will be hard to beat, he certainly gives us a good target to aim for.”

Paddon's decision to drive a Skoda was also influenced by a new relationship with one of New Zealand's largest motor vehicle importers and retailers, the Giltrap Group.

“It's a great honour to have a new partnership with the Giltrap Group, largely thanks to Colin and Richard Giltrap, who are huge supporters of New Zealand motorsport. The Giltrap Group is also the distributor for Skoda in New Zealand, so there's a natural link with this new partnership.”

Read More: crash.net/news/175591/1/swrc_paddon_to_use_skoda

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