Kiwi Hayden Paddon and British co-driver Seb Marshall have made the best of the conditions in Sweden to finish the first full day of competition in third place overall behind their Hyundai team-mates Thierry Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen.
Running 11th on the road for Friday’s seven stages, Paddon and Marshall took a steady approach in the morning loop, holding a steady eighth on the leader-board by the midday service. They then delivered two stage wins during the afternoon loop to leap up the standings to fifth and then third overall.
Fresh snowfall made life difficult for those running earlier on the road order, with few visible lines available to negotiate the treacherous stages. Still, conditions were tricky for everyone with most crews content to make it to the end of the day.
Paddon said: “It is great to be back for our first WRC event of 2018. Our objective today was to get the rhythm back. The conditions were not easy. We had to be conscious of keeping the car in the lines, and adapting both the car and my driving to suit the stages. The ruts became really pronounced in the afternoon loop. If you go outside of the lines, you become a passenger in your own car, so we had to pull back a bit at times. The road position has helped but we wanted to have a sensible approach to the day, and a clean run, which we have had. There is room for improvement, but the positions are encouraging and there’ll be more to give tomorrow.”
With the running order for Saturday determined by reversing the event standings at the end of Friday, Paddon and Marshall will start 11th on the road again