PWRC : Dominant victory for Paddon
« We weren’t the fastest but we stuck to our plan »
Hayden Paddon made it two wins from two starts when he clinched victory in the Production Car World Rally Championship section of Rally Argentina today.
Driving a Subaru Impreza WRX STI alongside fellow New Zealander John Kennard, Paddon didn’t put a wheel wrong as he strolled home by almost eight minutes ahead of Patrik Flodin and Dmitry Tagirov, who moved into the final podium spot when Michal Kosciuszko hit trouble on Sunday morning.
To increase Paddon’s joy, the power glitch that had hampered his New Zealand World Rally Team entry throughout the event was cured for the final day’s stages, which meant he was finally able to run at full throttle.
“It was a very good weekend but obviously very difficult due to the rough-nature of the stages,” said Paddon, who took the lead on stage seven and was never threatened thereafter despite the fact he was competing in South America for the first time. “We had a plan from the start to simply concentrate on keeping the car in one piece and get to the end. We weren’t the fastest but we stuck to our plan, the competition had problems and it worked out perfectly.”
Paddon’s victory puts him joint top with Martin Semerad in the PWRC drivers’ classification. The Czech endured a troubled event in a hired Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X, with the loss of front brakes on stage 16 adding to his woes.
In the battle for second, Flodin, who was reunited with former navigator Maria Andersson for a one-off outing, recovered to the runner-up spot following his retirement on Friday with an electrical fault on his Impreza. “If we look back on Friday it was a terrible start so we are happy to finish second,” said the Swede.
Kosciuszko started day three in touching distance of second-placed Flodin but dropped out of contention when he broke his Mitsubishi Lancer’s front-right steering arm on Sunday’s 48.21-kilometre opener. He was able to continue following repairs but lost almost 20 minutes and had to settle for 10th spot. “At least we showed we had the pace to win some stages,” said the Polish driver.
His misfortune handed Tagirov his first PWRC podium to complete a Subaru podium lockout. Nicolas Fuchs was the leading Mitsubishi finisher in fourth, despite his car getting stuck in second gear prior to the rally-closing Power Stage.
Behind Semerad, Mexican Benito Guerra was hamstrung by a turbo fault in sixth place with Argentine wildcard entrant Ezequiel Campos seventh in a Lancer. Italian veteran and Subaru stalwart Gianluca Linari finished eighth on a rare outing in a Mitsubishi.
Ukrainian Yuriy Protasov overcame a power steering failure to nurse his Subaru to ninth ahead of Kosciuszko and British youngster Harry Hunt, who topped the Production Car Cup in his two-wheel-drive Citroen DS3.
Hunt’s only cause for concern on the final day occurred when he suffered a front-right puncture on the day’s opening stage.
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