The local hero kicked off the penultimate leg with a brace of stage wins in his Hyundai i20 N Rally2 - adding to the four he had already collected on Friday before the final test of the morning loop was red-flagged.
With his lead sitting at 1min 38sec and no signs of the inclement weather improving, the Kiwi avoided taking any risks in the afternoon but was still able to further increase his buffer to more than two minutes over Poland’s Kajetan Kajetanowicz.
“It was really clean, a tidy day for us," confirmed Paddon at day's end. "We took a couple of extra tyres this afternoon just to play that safe card. We kept it in the middle of the road with no moments and I am happy with how today has gone."
Kajetanowicz had his Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo locked in an intriguing battle with another Kiwi - Shane Vangisbergen - who drives an older R5-specification Fabia.
The two-time Supercars champion took nearly seven seconds out of Kajetanowicz on Saturday’s opening test to bring the gap back to 27.8sec before closing in further on the first run of the afternoon. However, his charge would be cut short one stage later when a front right puncture cost more over a minute.
Reigning Australian champion Harry Bates’ New Zealand adventure took another hiccup on the opening stage when he narrowly avoided a telegraph pole after sliding his Fabia wide on a right-hander. One shining light was a maiden WRC2 stage win on the second run through Kaipara Hills.
Bates is stranded in fourth position, 3min 23.3sec behind Van Gisbergen and 3min 13.9sec ahead of WRC2 Masters leader Armin Kremer, who rounds out the top-five in a Citroën C3 Rally2.