Despite frantic repairs by Paddon and co-driver John Kennard on the subsequent road section, they were unable to cure the fault to the extent they were two minutes late starting stage 12 and haemorrhaged considerable time through the 19.77-kilometre test, which they completed more than 1m20s slower than Michal Kosciuszko, who has moved into the category lead.
With two stages to go until service in Coffs Harbour, Paddon is set to drop further ground to his rival, while also incurring a 20-second penalty for starting stage 12 behind schedule, which has put him 23.1s behind Mitsubishi Lancer-driving Kosciuszko heading to stage 13.
Despite taking the lead, Pole Kosciuszko said he felt for his rival: “It’s a shame because he has been driving really the perfect rally and I hope he can carry on. For us the first two stages were clean with no problems.”
Paddon can win the PWRC crown if he secures the 25 points available for topping the final classification.