Tuesday | 03 May 2016

Home fixtures for WRC trio

With a fortnight until the next WRC round in Portugal (19 - 22 May) Mads Østberg, Hayden Paddon and Elfyn Evans took time out to rediscover their national rallying roots at the weekend.

Of the three, M-Sport World Rally Team driver Østberg (above) enjoyed the most success, winning Saturday's Norwegian championship Rally Sørland at the wheel of a self-run Ford Fiesta R5.
Østberg faced competition from fellow WRC drivers Anders Grøndal and Eyvind Brynildsen but got off to a flying start - stretching more than a minute ahead after fastest times on the opening four stages.
Brynildsen ended his run of stage wins on the fifth, but Østberg's overall lead was never troubled and he cleared the final stage with a winning margin of 2m02s over Grøndal in second.
On the other side of the globe, Paddon came back to earth with a bump a week after claiming his first WRC win in Argentina.
The Kiwi was back on home turf for the International Rally of Whangarei, round two of the New Zealand championship, but after a dominant win on the first round in Otago, Paddon had to retire his Asia Pacific-spec Hyundai i20 on Saturday with driveshaft-related problems.
Problems fixed, he ended the rally on a high by restarting on Sunday and winning all of the remaining six stages.
Like Paddon, WRC 2 leader Elfyn Evans had trouble turning raw speed into a winning result when he tackled the British championship Pirelli Carlisle Rally.
The Welshman was fastest in his Ford Fiesta R5 on all but one stage, but dropped to fifth on the third stage after he hit a rock and damaged a front wheel and tyre.
Evans fought back hard, but his progress was hampered by minimum stage times set by rally organisers. Even though Evans could beat them, he couldn't keep the difference, and a string of nominal times only brought him up as high as third behind winner, his WRC 2 rival Frederik Ahlin, and second placed Matthew Wilson.

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