Hayden Paddon has written off the remainder of his World Rally Championship campaign and says he is focusing his attention on a 2018 title challenge instead.
The Hyundai driver has struggled to get comfortable with the marque’s i20 Coupe WRC, with a number of teething troubles with the new car coinciding with a dip in form from the New Zealander.
Paddon’s struggles so far this season mean he is 105 points behind his pacesetting team-mate Thierry Neuville with three rallies remaining.
He finished the most recent round of the season in Germany in eighth, having been off the pace and delayed early on by a puncture.
Paddon has retired from four WRC rounds this season and visited the podium only once when he finished second at Rally Poland.
“Next year was always the target year, and that doesn’t change,” Paddon told Autosport.
“I don’t know what’s happened this year, we must have seriously pissed somebody off for the luck we’ve had.
“But now we’ve just got to put it behind us, stay positive and look forwards.
“Germany was always going to be a difficult event for us with the changeable conditions and the rain on day one turned the roads into a mud bath and cost us time.
“The encouraging thing for me was the speed we could show when the roads dried out a bit on Saturday and Sunday – once the grip level was more consistent then we were able to show what we’d learned about driving on Tarmac and set some top-three stage times.”
He said he would spend the remainder of the current campaign setting himself up for the start of next season.
“There’s no doubt this is a frustrating season for us, of course it is, we’ve missed so many miles in the car this year and that’s been one of the big issues for us,” added Paddon.
“We’ve made some good changes to the car since Portugal and we’ve found some real pace on gravel, but now everything is directed towards Monte next year.”
Paddon went home to New Zealand following Rally Germany but misfortune followed him onto last Saturday’s Coromandel Rally, where he was leading the North Island event before he slipped off the road in his Hyundai i20 AP4+.
The undamaged car could not be put back on the road without the help of spectators.