Hayden Paddon will make his World Rally Championship top flight debut when joins the Qatar M-Sport team for next month's Rally of Spain.
The New Zealander admitted landing the Ford Fiesta RS WRC drive for Catalunya was a dream come true.
"To say I'm excited is an understatement, but I am also focused on ensuring that we make the most of this opportunity," the former Production Car World Rally champion said. "I don't want to just be in a WRC car for a one off event, this is what I want to make my career out of."
The deal with M-Sport team principal Malcolm Wilson came in the wake of a stirring Rally Australia drive from Paddon. After retiring before the first gravel stage, he bounced back to dominate the WRC 2 field in an aging Skoda Fabia S2000 (pictured below).
"After some discussions, we were offered this great opportunity and it's amazing to finally get our chance in a WRC car," Paddon added. "While it has been a lot of hard work over the past few seasons to get to this point, we are conscious that the level of hard work will in fact increase even further as this is very much our chance to try and showcase what we can do to ultimately move further forward in the sport and toward 2014."
Paddon said his focus would be on getting his Fiesta to the finish of the Oct. 24-27 event.
"Naturally I want to be competitive and will be giving it our utmost to set some good stage times," he said. "However it is also important to make sure we finish the rally to gain as much experience behind the wheel of a WRC car for the first time."