New Zealand’s most successful rally driver Hayden Paddon has today (February 24) confirmed he will compete in Rally Barbados 2023 (June 9-11). The former Production World Rally Champion and winner of WRC Rally Argentina 2016 will be joined by his long-term co-driver and fellow Kiwi John Kennard for the 33rd running of the Barbados Rally Club’s (BRC) blue riband event.

  The 35-year-old six-time New Zealand Rally Champion remains loyal to the brand with which he has developed such a close and successful relationship in recent years and will therefore add the first Hyundai to the roster of Ford and Skoda R5 and Rally2 machinery seen in the island in recent years. He will campaign the same Hyundai i20 R5 he drove to victory in the closed-road Rali Ceredigion in Wales last September.

  Supported by the Tourism Development Corporation (TDC), Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc (BTMI), Automotive Art and Valvoline, the car will be run in RB23 and the previous weekend’s King of the Hill by regular Rally Barbados visitor Andy Scott’s Albatec Racing team. The Scotsman is returning to compete for the fifth time, hoping to improve on his best result so far, third overall and FIA R5 class winner in Sol RB19 in a Ford Fiesta R5.

  Of his forthcoming trip Paddon said: “We are really looking forward to coming to Barbados for the first time. I have heard a lot about the rally in the past and have seen the colourful media content each time it runs. To compete there ourselves is something that will be a highlight of our year while enjoying the Caribbean for the first time.

  “Like any event we do, we will be there to be competitive, and Andy and his Albatec team have a track record with us and the Hyundai R5, having won our first tarmac rally together last year in Wales. A big thank you to everyone that has helped to make this opportunity possible.”

  Rally Barbados Event Director Neil Barnard said: “We’re absolutely thrilled to announce Hayden’s entry for RB23 which is thanks in large part to Andy Scott and Albatec Racing, but also due to the support of the TDC and the BTMI here in Barbados. A high-profile entry like Hayden’s shines more light on the event and our island, and we’re really looking forward to welcoming him and John in June!”

  Paddon won the first of his six national titles in a Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX in 2008 and his most recent last year for Hyundai NZ, which was also Kennard’s fourth co-driver’s title. Alongside his national campaigns, Paddon competed in the World Rally Championship between 2007 – his first event was Rally New Zealand that year – and 2022, claiming the PWRC title in 2011 in a Subaru Impreza WRX STi, with four wins. Among a total of 40 stage wins and eight podium finishes, Paddon won Rally Argentina for Hyundai in 2016, which was his - and New Zealand's - first WRC win, while co-driver Kennard also became the oldest co-driver to win a WRC round at 57 years of age.

Rally Barbados (June 9-11) is a tarmac rally, with around 20 special stages run on the island’s intricate network of public roads, under road closure orders granted by the Ministry of Transport, Works & Water Resources; the King of the Hill ‘shakedown’ (June 4), runs under a similar arrangement and features four timed runs on a roughly four-kilometre stage, the results of which are used to seed the running order for RB23.