Kiwi rally star Hayden Paddon and co-driver Seb Marshall are now up into fourth place at the end of Saturday (CEST) at Rally Italia Sardegna.
Paddon finished the seven-stage day standings in fifth place, having delivered a consistent performance and netting a one-step improvement up the leader-board by taking fifth place after a close battle with Mads Ostberg. Dramas late in the day for third-placed Jari-Matti Latvala, whose car stopped on the way back to the final service, promoted Paddon into the fourth spot with just four stages to run on Sunday.
Saturday’s conditions were much more typical of the Mediterranean Island with sunshine and red dust. Running third on the road, Paddon enjoyed a clean, relatively issue-free run with some top five stage times to show for his efforts. The tussle with Ostberg isn’t over, with the Norwegian just 2.1 seconds behind Paddon in the overall standings and those four final stages still to go on Sunday. Paddon has a margin of just over a minute to Esapekka Lappi in third place, so his goal is to hold his fourth place to the finish tomorrow and secure maximum points for Hyundai Motorsport in the WRC manufacturers’ championship.
Speaking following the conclusion of Saturday’s stages but before Latvala was forced to retire, Paddon said: “We have definitely enjoyed the conditions today more than we did on Friday. There has been a little bit of sweeping required, but nothing too detrimental.
“The grip was good on the morning loop and we recovered some of the positive feeling we had in shakedown. Rally Italia Sardegna certainly throws up a fair few surprises, as we’ve seen again today, so we played it smart and concentrated on clean runs.
“We tried to keep the pressure on Mads throughout the day, and it’s going to be a close-run final morning. There are important manufacturer points up for grabs, so we won’t be doing anything foolish but fourth is there for the taking, so we’ll do our best to defend it.”
Classification after Day Two
1 S. Ogier J. Ingrassia Ford Fiesta WRC 3:02:16.9
2 T. Neuville N. Gilsoul Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +3.9
3 E. Lappi J. Ferm Toyota Yaris WRC +54.2
4 H. Paddon S. Marshall Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC +2:01.8
5 M. Østberg T. Eriksen Citroën C3 WRC +2:03.9
6 C. Breen S. Martin Citroën C3 WRC +3:13.6