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The reality of Hyundai star, Hayden Paddon, mixing it with Australia’s best is not only a fantastic promotional opportunity for the Australian Rally Championship, but a great benchmark for many of our local stars.

Paddon’s resume speaks for itself, and though the announcement to compete at the Eureka Rush rally was not a surprise, the previous developments and acquisitions of the championship make it a perfect time for this to occur.

The sport is on an upward trend at a national level, which has seen investment from manufacturers and drivers alike, and provides an opportunity for comparisons in Ballarat.

There will now be three R5 cars in the Australian series, which are set to be regulars.

John O'Dowd in action in his Skoda Fabia R5. Photo: Tim Allott

West Australian, John O’Dowd, purchased a Skoda Fabia R5, Luke Anear has imported a Ford Fiesta R5 which is set to debut it in Tasmania, and you can now add the Walkem Hyundai i20 R5 to the mix.

Paddon’s appearance in the Hyundai i20 R5 will set a great benchmark for these competitors, particularly considering O'Dowd and Anear are driving what are widely recognised as superior machines.

It gives Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia the greatest chance yet to compare their home grown Yaris AP4s and their drivers against the might of a WRC star.

In 2018, we saw the Toyota fight, often blow-for-blow with Eli Evans’ Skoda, but consistency meant a real title challenge was never on the cards.

For Australia’s up and coming drivers, it presents a huge opportunity to compare themselves, but particularly for Harry and Lewis Bates.

Harry and Lewis Bates drive for the new Toyota Gazoo Racing Australia team. Photo: Neil Blackbourn

There will be no ‘home ground advantage’ for them, as all the stages at the Eureka Rush are brand new.

Their Toyotas are now at a high level of performance, but how close that level is to a WRC-winning driver like Paddon will soon become apparent.

For two young Toyota stars looking to take their careers overseas in the future, it will give them a perfect sighter in their quest for international glory.

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