Friday | 12 Jun 2015

SS3: Double win puts Paddon out front

Hayden Paddon was fastest through Friday morning’s opening two speed tests at Rally Italia Sardegna to lead this sixth round of the FIA World Rally Championship by 19.8sec.

Stage info: SS2 / SS3

SS2: Grighine Sud 1, 26.31km
New for 2015, Grighine Sud is the longest stage of the leg. It starts narrow and fast, twisting between stone walls and featuring brief surface changes from gravel to asphalt. The roads vary throughout, offering a rocky, bumpy, rollercoaster of a ride in places, interspersed with smooth flowing sections as the route passes a wind farm.

SS3: Grighine Nord 1, 18.34km
The early section includes bumpy, suspension-smashing bedrock as crews head into a wooded section featuring heavily rutted tracks. It then climbs steeply up a mountain, tackling a tough series of tight bends and fast sections.

The Kiwi enjoyed cleaner roads offered by a low start position to win Grighine Sud by 5.3sec in his Hyundai i20, before outpacing the field by 11.0sec in Grighine Nord.

“It was an advantage,” admitted Paddon. “We were surprised by our speed in SS2 so we calmed down in the next one and didn’t take big risks, just following the line. We hit a massive rock in SS2 that pitched us in the air and again in this one, so we were a bit lucky,” he said.

Overnight rain left the gravel roads damper and cooler than expected and those who gambled on including soft tyres in their selection this morning benefited. One of those was Paddon, who had two softs on the rear of his car.

Second fastest in SS3 promoted Jari-Matti Latvala into second in his Volkswagen Polo R. The Finn admitted he also benefited from the early starters sweeping the roads. “Ogier was suffering no doubt, there is so much loose gravel,” he said.

Championship leader Ogier was second in SS2 but eighth in the more slippery SS3, and held fourth, 22.3sec off the lead. “It was terrible, a lot of gravel and it was like driving on ice. But I’m happy, I couldn’t have driven better,” said the Frenchman, who is 0.8sec behind team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen.

Ott Tänak was fifth although the Estonian reported ‘something strange’ at the front of his Ford Fiesta RS. Dani Sordo was sixth and without last night’s jump start penalty, the Spaniard would have been second.

Citroën’s Kris Meeke was the first casualty. The Ulsterman went off the road 8.77km into SS2 and broke his DS 3’s rear left suspension. He was joined by Robert Kubica, the Pole going off in SS3 after missing his braking into a chicane.

Elfyn Evans dropped 45sec in SS3 with no drive in his Fiesta RS, while Khalid Al Qassimi was already four minutes off the lead after tackling SS2 with no power.

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