Hayden Paddon recently informed organisers of Rally Australia that he wouldn't be attending the event in 2019.
There had been initial thoughts that the Kiwi might be there in a Hyundai i20 R5, but those petered out.
Now, with the shock announcement that he'll drive a Ford Fiesta WRC at Rally Finland next month, one wonders if the opportunity to compete down under in a World Rally Car has been reignited.
Unless something out of the ordinary happens, it appears Paddon's days as a Hyundai WRC driver are over.
Having been overlooked for Finland in favour of Craig Breen, he quickly secured enough funding to drive a third Ford in the season's fastest, most spectacular rally.
He's already indicated he'll be driving flat out in Finland to try and make an impression, but it's unlikely that it will be a 'win it our bin it' approach.
A young Hayden Paddon chats with M-Sport's Malcolm Wilson in 2013.
Paddon has been out of the WRC for eight months, and things progress quickly in that time. Cars evolve, speeds increase.
However, a top five finish could just bolster his chances of a more regular return to the WRC, and while it's unlikely he'd select a tarmac event (such as Germany, which follows Finland), there's a very real chance he could target Rally Australia.
He was second at Coffs Harbour last year, knows the stages well, and enjoys them greatly.
While he may have already drawn a line through Rally Australia 2019, a strong result in Finland will no doubt see him reassessing that decision as the WRC finale looms.
It would be a boon for local rally fans, and ensure the regular mass of New Zealanders heading across the ditch continues.
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