SS5: Fiery exits for
Paddon and Tänak

Fire destroyed Hayden Paddon’s Hyundai i20 after both he and Ott Tänak rolled at the same place in Friday afternoon’s opening speed test at Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

Stage info: SS5

Ponte de Lima 2, 27.44km
Friday afternoon’s opener is wide but extremely twisty, with hardly a straight to speak of. After a very short initial asphalt section, the road comprises smooth gravel on top of a clay base. There are a couple more short asphalt stretches where main roads link the gravel sections and far fewer trees – possibly a result of last year’s forest fires. The longest test of the day.

The Kiwi’s car caught fire after he crashed heavily 11.90km into the second pass of Ponte de Lima. It burned out within five minutes and while Paddon and co-driver John Kennard were unhurt, they were only able to save their crash helmets from the burning wreckage.

Minutes later Tänak rolled his Ford Fiesta RS at the same location. It also caught fire, but the uninjured crew were helped by locals in extinguishing the flames with a hose pipe and it was reported the Estonian’s car was not badly damaged.

Organisers cancelled the stage and the following competitors drove it non-competitively before continuing to the following Caminha test.

Before the cancellation, Dani Sordo was fastest by 9.6sec in his i20 from Sébastien Ogier, with Thierry Neuville a further 0.5sec back. Nine drivers completed the stage competitively and notional times will be awarded to the remaining competitors, meaning the leaderboard remains unconfirmed. 

Mads Østberg counted himself lucky not to go off at the same point as Paddon and Tänak. “I lost the line in a rutted corner, there were lots of car parts on the road,” said the Norwegian.

Jari-Matti Latvala also hit problems, striking a hole and breaking his Volkswagen Polo R’s power steering. The Finn was exhausted after wrestling his car to the finish and dropped 40sec.

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