Hayden Paddon finished second at Italy's Rallye Sanremo on Saturday as part of his preparations for the upcoming Che Guevara Energy Drink Tour de Corse (6 - 9 April).
The rally, a former stop on the WRC calendar, is one of the most famous rounds of the Italian championship, and Paddon tackled it in an R5-spec Hyundai i20 alongside co-driver Seb Marshall, who will partner him full-time from August.
Despite lacking experience compared to their Italian championship rivals, the pair were third by the midpoint of Friday's opening day, and car set-up changes in service enabled them to improve to second by the close - thanks to a stage win on the rally's longest test.
For Saturday's final day, Paddon's focus turned to consolidating the position and gaining asphalt mileage in preparation for this week's event in Corsica. He finished 38.6sec behind the winner, multiple Italian champion Paulo Andreucci, in a Peugeot 208 T16.
Paddon said: “For me Rallye Sanremo has been a really enjoyable event. In some places the roads are similar to Corsica, so to have finished here with such a strong performance is the best preparation for the WRC in France next weekend.
"Because the R5 car has slightly less power than the WRC car I was able to focus more my driving lines and style, which has improved during this event. As I got used to the feel of the grip levels on the Tarmac we were able to make handling adjustments, which I could really feel when we got to the stages."
"Arriving here with little previous knowledge of the roads we knew it was going to be tough to compare ourselves with the local crews but we showed we could compete with them by taking an important stage win away from them,” he added.
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