New Zealand rally driver Hayden Paddon will get his first taste of working with a new co-driver next week when he lines up alongside Seb Marshall in Rallye Sanremo.

Brit Marshall was announced yesterday as Paddon's long-term co-driver and will take over from Kiwi John Kennard at this year's Rally Germany.

The next world championship event is a week later on the tarmac of Corsica - Paddon's least favourite surface so a trial run a week earlier on similar roads helps on two fronts.

"Hyundai Motorsport is trying to help us improve on tarmac," Paddon told


"Rallye Sanremo is the weekend before Corsica - it is very similar to Corsica in being very twisty. We have the opportunity to do it in an R5 car.

"The first priority of that event is to get mileage on tarmac and adjust before Corsica and then secondly to spend a bit more time with Seb in the car.

"We are not going to get dragged into results or look at stage times or win a rally or anything."

Marshall is no stranger to the Hyundai set-up having worked alongside Paddon and Kennard with the team as firstly a co-driver to Dutch driver Kevin Abbring but also more recently on Paddon's gravel crew that checks road conditions and helps with tyre choice and set-up.

"I have got full confidence that he will step into the role seamlessly," Paddon said. "We have been working together for 12 months now behind the scenes and we get on really well as mates as well.

"It has all the ingredients to be a successful relationship.

"There was certainly no point in making a change unless we could find a way where there would be an advantage in the future. To do that we had to make sure we had the exact right person.

"There was no easy time to make this decision which is another reason why it has taken so long for both of us to come to the decision we have.

"Long term we have to be realistic. I hope to be in the sport for a lot longer yet - many years ahead - while John is tapering off in his career.

"Seb has been involved with Hyundai for the past three years so that is how we met him and got to know him."

Paddon remains close with Kennard and the decision to end their in-car relationship was mutual. Hyundai had no say in the decision - that is left entirely up to the driver and the driver's management to work out.

The key thing was to think about the future, knowing Kennard had limited time left in the sport, and finding the best time to make a change so that it didn't negatively impact performance.

"2018 and 2019 are going to be our pivotal years and we need to hit the ground running," Paddon said. "Obviously we would like to have had John stay on as long as he could and we have tried to stretch that out as much as we can.

"We couldn't just start with a new co-driver come 2018. There is always a transition period of us getting used to working with each other in the car, the languages and just knowing how we all work.

"Come 2018 it will already a well-formed relationship and it won't affect our results."
Paddon will continue to work with Kennard outside the car however.

"He will be on the gravel crew for the tarmac rallies. We have so many projects on in New Zealand and he will be part of some of that. He is already on the board of the foundation.

"He has been with us since very early on in our whole journey - between my father, John and I we have been here throughout and we look forward to continuing with him."