Motorsport: Paddon - Neuville holds trump card in silly season

By Dale Budge

Thierry Neuville during the WRC Germany. Photo / Getty Images
Thierry Neuville during the WRC Germany. Photo / Getty Images

The silly season of the World Rally Championship is fast approaching as those drivers looking for contracts next season enter negotiations with manufacturers.

With a new team entering the top level of the sport in 2017 in Toyota there will be additional spots up for grabs and more movement as a result.

Volkswagen are locked in with their three drivers - three time defending world champ Sebastien Ogier, Finn Jari-Matti Latvala and Norway's Andreas Mikkelsen. Citroen have confirmed Brit Kris Meeke will pilot one of their new C3 cars while Hyundai have Spaniard Dani Sordo and Kiwi Hayden Paddon under contract.

That leaves one seat at Hyundai, at least one at Citroen, the two M-Sport cars and potentially a third depending whether they expand and the three spots at Toyota up for grabs.

"A lot of the drivers are set but there are one or two key players that hold the trump cards to all of the moves," Paddon tells herald.co.nz.

"Our current Hyundai teammate Thierry Neuville holds one of those trump cards. Once we know what he is going I think you will very quickly see a lot of movement."

Paddon isn't worried either way what happens with Neuville as it will have little impact on his own championship next season.

The Korean manufacturer employs an approach where all three of their drivers are given equal standing so in Paddon's eyes it doesn't matter what happens with the third car.

"No matter where Theirry is he is a fast driver," Paddon explains. "Whether he is in our car or another car he will be another fast rival we have to beat.

"Between Dani and myself we work well together and we have good structure there so I think we can make it work with whoever that third driver is going to be.

"We are competitive when it comes to the rally - your number one opponent is your teammate. But away from the rallies we all need to be working together to develop the car.

"Next year that is going to be key - we are all going to be developing the cars as the season is progressing and the more we can fast track that process by working together then the better it is for all of us."

- NZ Herald

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