Paddon had been in a close battle with Craig Breen starting day two but was edging clear when a rear differential issue slowed Breen in the afternoon to the extent he slipped behind Yazeed Al-Rajhi on the final stage.
“It’s not been a bad day and we’ve been able to extend our lead after Craig had his problem,” said New Zealander Paddon, who drives a Skoda Fabia Super 2000. “With virtually no pre-event testing it’s not been a bad effort for our first time on Tarmac with this car.”
Breen’s problems began when he suffered a spin on stage 13 but his biggest cause for concern occurred at the stage finish when a rear differential problem was discovered on his Ford Fiesta S2000.
PROTON Motorsports’ P-G Andersson was in a relatively comfortable third place despite suffering a spin on stage 11. However, a right-rear puncture slowed him down and dropped him to fourth behind Yazeed Al-Rajhi. And it got worse for the Swede who started stage 14 behind schedule before stopping within the run due to a suspected alternator failure.
He is due to restart on Sunday but his retirement could have disastrous consequences for his SWRC title bid having begun the event with a narrow eight-point lead over Breen and Paddon.
Al-Rajhi fought back from a spin on Saturday’s opener to move ahead of Andersson into third place in his Fiesta Regional Rally Car before demoting Breen for second with the fastest time through the penultimate stage. The Saudi could have added to that tally on the final run only to suffer a spin. “I will be on full attack tomorrow,” he promised. “I hope everything goes well.”
Austrian category newcomer Andreas Aigner completes the list of remaining runners in the second PROTON. Pole Maciej Oleksowicz retired from fifth place before Friday’s closing test with a fuel tank issue. He aborted plans to return under Rally 2 rules on Saturday.