A patient and consistent approach to Saturday’s eight special stages of Rally Sweden has helped Kiwi Hayden Paddon and his British co-driver Seb Marshall stay in the thick of the top-five action.
Hyundai Motorsport continues to lead Rally Sweden, the second round of the 2018 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), after a measured performance on the penultimate day.
Thierry Neuville continued where he left off on Friday evening, defending his lead during the morning stages before extending his advantage with an assured afternoon loop. The Belgian will begin the final morning with a 22.7-second gap to second-placed Craig Breen.
All three Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC crews remain in the hunt for competitive finishes this weekend with Andreas Mikkelsen and Hayden Paddon holding strong third and fourth spots. There are just over nine seconds between Citroën’s Breen and Mikkelsen, setting up a tantalising final morning.
Saturday’s action took place on classic Swedish roads near to Hagfors, covering a total special stage distance of 120.31km. The 19.88km Torntop stage returned to the itinerary for the first time since 2014, when Hyundai Motorsport first contested Rally Sweden.
In dry conditions with no fresh snow, Paddon balanced his chosen setup of his Hyundai i20 WRC with the road conditions post competitive stage times during the afternoon’s repeated loop to consolidate his fourth place overall going into Sunday’s final short day of action. Paddon is 48.6s off Hyundai team-mate and rally leader Thierry Neuville, and 16.6s behind his other team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen who holds third place.
Paddon said: “Not quite the day we wanted but we are still enjoying ourselves and doing the best we can. We started the morning loop knowing that we would be playing a waiting game. The way that the car has been set up for my driving meant we had to find a compromise between my own confidence and the outright performance in those first stages.
“The wider lines on the roads in the afternoon played more to my strengths, so we had to be patient and wait for the stages to come to us. We were definitely more comfortable to push in the repeat loop. It was fantastic to see so many fans enjoying the stages, especially through Colin’s Crest. Unfortunately, we lost a little time stuck in a snow bank on the final stage, but we are still in a good position to push on tomorrow.
The rally concludes on Sunday morning with just three stages.
Classification after Day Two
1 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC 2:23:23.8
2 C. Breen S. Martin Citroën C3 WRC +22.7
3 A. Mikkelsen A. Jæger Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +32.0
4 H. Paddon S. Marshall Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +48.6
5 M. Østberg T. Eriksen Citroën C3 WRC +56.8
6 E. Lappi J. Ferm Toyota Yaris WRC +1:05.8
7 J. M. Latvala M. Anttila Toyota Yaris WRC +2:03.3
8 T. Suninen M. Markkula Ford Fiesta WRC +2:20.5
9 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Toyota Yaris WRC +3:41.3
10 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Ford Fiesta WRC +4:24.9