Paddon confident of Italy fitness

Hayden Paddon is confident of being fit for next month’s WRC fixture in Italy after injuring his back in a rally-ending 15G crash in Portugal last weekend.

He spent a night in hospital after complaining of lower back pain when he crashed out of the lead at Vodafone Rally de Portugal in Friday afternoon’s final dirt road speed test in Ponte de Lima.

“Luckily nothing serious was found other than flaring up an old injury and I was released the next day. Now some quiet days are all that are needed to recover and be fully fit for Rally Italia Sardegna in less than three weeks,” said the Kiwi.

Paddon had just taken the lead for a second time when the accident happened, leaving his Hyundai i20 blocking the road and forcing the test to be cancelled.

“Knowing we had two hard tyres on our car and that we had a small advantage over our competitors we wanted to make the most of this stage, keeping in mind it would set us up for the rest of the weekend,” he explained.

“However, on a fast fourth gear right hand corner, I was caught out by a rock that was sitting further out on the inside of the corner than I thought. This caused me to delay the turn in and wait for the corner more.

“But this then meant the corner gradient became tighter and I was then carrying too much speed. We ran wide with the rear of the car into the ditch but unfortunately a culvert then stopped us in our tracks – spinning the car 360 degrees and ending back on the road.”

Paddon got out of the car unaided and co-driver Seb Marshall ran up the road to warn the approaching Mads Østberg. When Marshall returned, Paddon was lying on the ground and both he and the Norwegian activated their in-car SOS button to summon medical help.

Marshall suffered a sore neck but has no fitness concerns for the 7 - 10 June gravel road encounter in Sardinia.

It was the third consecutive year Paddon hit trouble in the twisty stage near the Spanish border. Two years ago his i20 was burned to a shell after rolling and last year he stopped with electrical problems while leading.

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