Paddon and Breen have swapped the lead throughout the day with Breen reaching the midday halt in Colmar in front after Paddon suffered a high-speed spin on stage four. Breen maintained his advantage until stage six when Paddon snatched the lead, which he will hold at the overnight halt in Strasbourg.
“We’re happy to get to end of first day without too many problems,” said New Zealander Paddon, who drives a Skoda Fabia S2000. “Other than the spin it’s been a good day. We’ve not been on the limit, just trying to learn where the grip is and how the car handles on Tarmac.”
Breen, in a Ford Fiesta S2000, said: “It’s been a good battle and tomorrow’s going to be another good, good day.”
P-G Andersson, who tops the SWRC title standings by eight points over Breen and Paddon, is third overnight in his PROTON Motorsports entry. “It wasn’t in the plan to let them drive away but I wasn’t able to fight with them, they’ve been much quicker. The first day is over and there’s still a long way to go.”
Saudi driver Yazeed Al-Rajhi said his turbocharged Fiesta Regional Rally Car wasn’t ideally suited to the high-speed sections on day one. Meanwhile, Andreas Aigner, making his debut in the SWRC, completes the leaderboard in the second works Satria-Neo S2000 after Maciej Oleksowicz failed to record a time on the Mulhouse test. Aigner said: “We’ve had no handbrake all day and it’s been tricky, slippery in places. We just have to keep learning and keep on going.”