Paddon pads Italy WRC lead

2017-06-09 20:01:49

After the afternoon loop of repeated stages, Hayden Paddon has maintained his advantage at the head of the Rally Italia Sardinia leaderboard. Despite carrying a damper problem, the Hyundai driver has extended his lead and now sits 8.2 seconds ahead of teammate Thierry Neuville, the Belgian moving into second following a last stage drama for Juho Hanninen.

Ott Tanak has climbed to third with Jari-Matti Latvala and Mads Ostberg chasing behind. The closeness of competition sees the top five separated by just 14.7 seconds after a long, hot, rough and dusty day of competition.

"The priority today was getting a good road position for tomorrow. And that's mission accomplished," said Paddon. "I love tomorrow's stages, they suit me and they suit the car. It would be rude if we didn't give it a try."

Behind Paddon, Neuville has been slowed with a couple of punctures and is just 1.3 seconds ahead of Tanak, who struggled with the car setup this afternoon. Jari-Matti Latvala, in fourth,  had a better and more consistent afternoon and has put himself firmly in contention for tomorrow. The Finn is just three-tenths of a second off the provisional podium overnight and is now the lead Toyota driver after Hanninen went off the road in the final stage.

After a great day where he ran consistently in second overall, Hanninen damaged the front end of the Yaris WRC and was losing water as he struggled to get back to the sanctuary of service. His mistake saw him drop from second to sixth.

Mads Ostberg is another to have run well, but this afternoon a tire gamble failed to pay off and the Norwegian had to concede it was a mistake. He dropped back from third and is now sandwiching the Toyotas of Latvala and Hanninen.

Championship leader Sebastien Ogier has lost far more time running first on the road than anticipated and is a disappointing 41 seconds adrift of the lead, and therefore with another relatively poor starting position tomorrow.

Esapekka Lappi has enjoyed a great run today and set a total of three fastest times in the third Yaris WRC. He is eighth and ahead of Andreas Mikkelsen who continues to ease himself into the C3 WRC. This afternoon he stalled five times over two stages, but is trying lots of different settings as he gets more and more mileage under his belt. Eric Camilli, driving an R5 Fiesta, rounds off the top 10.

In the FIA WRC 2 Championship, Jan Kopecky now has nearly a minute in hand to fellow Skoda driver Ole Christian Veiby and, after a tight battle earlier in the day, the Junior WRC Championship contenders have also spread out. Nil Solans continues to lead with Terry Folb second, 36.7 second adrift.