Paddon began Sunday’s final seven stages leading by a comfortable margin of more than 36 minutes and knew that a clean run to the finish in Auckland would be enough for his second support championship victory on his home round of the WRC following his success in the Production Car division in 2010.
However, joy turned to frustration for the Kiwi hero when broken suspension and a rare driving error cost him some time and ended his hopes of a top 10 finish, albeit without impacting too much on his commanding SWRC lead.
“Today was frustrating,” said Paddon, 25. “Although we bought it home and scored maximum [SWRC] points, not only did we have the suspension issue, I made a silly mistake in stage 20, hitting a bank, spinning and puncturing a tyre.
“We were out to show our pace on roads we know well so it was particularly frustrating for the rear suspension to break in the first stage this morning just when we were about to try and chase down Manfred Stohl in a Ford Fiesta World Rally Car who started the day just in front of us in 11th overall. I’m very pleased for everyone who’s worked so hard that we are now leading the championship, but I was hoping for more.”
P-G Andersson restarted under Rally 2 to take second for Proton Motorsports, despite reporting a tracking issue on Sunday morning. Maciej Oleksowicz made it two podiums in succession in his Fiesta in third with Yazeed Al-Rajhi completing the SWRC finishers in fourth overall.
However, any hopes Alister McRae had of a point-scoring finish ended when he retired his Proton on stage 19 when the clutch release bearing failed after the Scot had set the fastest time in the SWRC on stage 16.