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Double New Zealand rally champion and Asia-Pacific recipient of one of five drives in this year's Pirelli Star Driver scholarship, 22-year-old Hayden Paddon and his co-driver John Kennard have confirmed they will contest a full 2010 FIA Production World Rally Championship (PWRC).

Paddon, from Geraldine, and Kennard, from Blenheim, are the only New Zealand team to have entered the 2010 Production World Rally Championship.

Nine of the 13 World Rally Championship events are specified as being PWRC rounds, and then competitors must complete six of those nine rallies around the globe in production-based Group N cars to be eligible for PWRC points.

"The PWRC teams run directly behind the WRC superstars like Sébastien Loeb, Mikko Hirvonen and WRC newcomer, ex Formula One driver Kimi Räikkönen," explains Paddon.

Four of the PWRC events - Finland, France, Germany and Great Britain - are also rallies that the pair contests as one of the Pirelli Star Drivers.

"With the PSD campaign, we also contest Turkey and Portugal," says Paddon. "But as these are not PWRC events, we will make up the six rounds needed to complete a PWRC campaign by adding our home event, Rally New Zealand in early May and Rally Japan two months later."

While in Europe, Paddon will be at the wheel of a left-hand-drive Group N Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X. For the additional PWRC rounds in New Zealand and Japan, he'll be back in the Team Green Group N Mitsubishi Lancer EVO IX, the car he used to win his place as a Pirelli Star Driver at Rally Australia last year.

"A very exciting year lies ahead for us, and being able to put a full PWRC campaign together, over and above our existing Pirelli Star Driver programme, is a dream come true," says the passionate rally competitor.

"To think we will be competing in eight of this year's 13 rounds of the World Rally Championship is massive, but there is a lot of hard work still to be done to ensure we can extend this campaign and be a contender at every WRC event in 2011!"

Paddon was able to put together the additional programme to compete in New Zealand and Japan after being named the inaugural recipient of the Rally New Zealand Rising Stars International Scholarship in November last year.

"We have also been able to secure exciting support packages for the 2010 season from EDL Fasteners, Castrol, Rallytours and new Team Green supporter Contiki Tours," adds Hayden. "And we're looking forward to announcing further Team Green partners in coming weeks."

Only two New Zealanders have previously been entered for the full PWRC: rally great Possum Bourne and last year's Pirelli Star Driver recipient, fellow New Zealand rally driver Mark Tapper. Being able to compete in a full PWRC calendar means Paddon and the team can begin to put in place the next part of their plan: to work towards winning the Production World Rally Championship title.

"We have a detailed and realistic plan for the next eight years, based on my ultimate goal of making it to the pinnacle of rallying, the WRC. Part of this plan was to win the PWRC within three years, but after sitting down and analysing our current progress and speed, we believe this is something we can achieve in two years.

"The goal this year is to learn the events ? they will all be new events for John and me ? but we also want to be competitive and we're aiming for a podium championship result."

Paddon is realistic about the challenges and the size of the objective ahead, but believes that to continue to move forward at this elite level of the sport, he must have a good year in 2010 to help secure the funding required for 2011 and beyond.

"With our plans 90% in place for 2010, we are already negotiating plans and budgets for 2011, so we can try to continue forward in the World Rally Championship. The best way we can help this cause is to be competitive this year, whether these are new events or not. We are lucky that our first two WRC events, in Turkey and Portugal, are part of our Pirelli programme but not rounds of the PWRC, so we can ease into our new Mitsubishi EVO X and get used to some of the different terrain we will encounter."

The coming months will be busy ones for Paddon and the team as they go about completing the rebuild and testing of their Team Green championship-winning Mitsubishi EVO IX, which will be used on selected events in 2010. Paddon and Kennard then head to Europe in early March to begin training and testing with the other Pirelli Star Drivers, before their first event with the PSD team in Turkey from 14-18 April.

Team Green will also undertake selected rounds of the New Zealand Rally Championship, plus other events offshore that fit their programme, to gain further experience and exposure.  Full details of what will be the busiest year to date for Paddon and the team will be posted on their all new website, www.hayden-paddon.com, within a few weeks.
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