World Rally Championship exile Hayden Paddon is working on a deal to land a seat in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC before the end of the 2019 season.
Paddon’s planned WRC return with M-Sport at Rally Finland collapsed after a heavy testing crash three days before the start, and M-Sport confirmed the driver was blameless in the crash.
The ex-Hyundai WRC driver then flew home from Finland before the rally had begun to line up meetings with investors.
Paddon continues to work with M-Sport to try to get back into the Fiesta.
“Even though we knew there was no chance of doing anything on the rally, John [Kennard, co-driver] and I had planned to do the recce, but then there was the chance to sit down with people at home to talk through the options, so I had to jump on the plane,” said Paddon.
“I don’t think I can manage [the backing I had for] Finland, but I’m working flat-out to put a package together.
“I will drive anywhere, on any rally for the rest of the year. I just want the opportunity to show what I can do.
“Even though I only worked with those guys for a short time, it was clear to see the ambition and the ability within the team. And, I have to say, the Fiesta felt fantastic from the first kilometre.
“I’ll do whatever it takes to be there. I got close in Finland, and it hurt really bad that it ended the way it did. That’s not going to be the end of my time in the WRC.
“I’ve still got a lot of years left in me and, as I said before Finland, I honestly believe I’ve never driven better or been in better shape than I am right now.”
M-Sport team principal Richard Millener said his outfit was keen to find a way to get Paddon back in the team.
“We want to help Hayden,” said Millener. “We were massively disappointed for him last week, and we want to see him in the car.
“I was really impressed with the effort he put in, and the work he did ahead of the event to bring the deal together in such a short time.
“But the simple fact is that we need some more budget to be able to get him back in the car again.”