PWRC : Paddon in control
After Day Two
Hayden Paddon is on course to make it three wins from three starts in the Production Car World Rally Championship after an eventful second day on Neste Oil Rally Finland.
The New Zealander is 54.4s clear of wildcard entrant Mikko Pajunen, who has set a staggering pace in his two-wheel drive Renault Clio R3. The young Finn started the final stage in third overall but profited when Patrik Flodin’s crippled Subaru Impreza suffered further delay.
Jarkko Nikara, who has taken over Anders Grondal’s PWRC registration for his home rally, began day two with a slender 0.5s lead over Swede Flodin. But when a brake issue caused Nikara to go off the road and roll on Friday’s first stage, Flodin was handed the lead, which he was gradually able to extend before a suspension breakage took hold and dropped him behind Paddon. It got worse for Flodin when his car also suffered a loss of brakes.
“I struggled to adapt at the start of the day but it got much better and the car felt really good,” said New Zealander Paddon. “We were on tyre management mode this afternoon and it’s good to be leading. But there is till a long way to go and it’s going to be tough tomorrow.”
Flodin, who has yet to win in the PWRC this season, said: “We thought it was steering at first but it’s a problem with the suspension. It’s very frustrating because this is my favourite rally and I really wanted to win here.”
Nikara, meanwhile, has fought his way back to sixth overall behind Jukka Ketomaki and Michal Kosciuszko, despite a spin on stage 11.
“The morning didn’t start too well,” said Nikara. “We lost the brakes at the end of stage four and rolled the car onto the side. We had to wait for spectators to come and push us back on the road and we lost two minutes. It was a shame. Then I had an overshoot on stage six and had big tyre wear on stage nine.”
Mexican Benito Guerra is seventh with Peruvian champion Nicolas Fuchs eighth. Abu Dhabi driver Majed Al Shamsi is ninth with Valeriy Gorban completing the top 10 for Mentos Ascania Racing.
The Ukrainian squad has endured a difficult day after Oleksandr Saliuk and co-driver Pavel Cherepin suffered a huge crash on Friday’s first stage. Cherepin was taken to hospitality with a head injury but is due to be released on Saturday following further precautionary checks. Saliuk was uninjured.
After surviving an off on stage six, Briton Harry Hunt was in an impressive eighth overall in his Citroen DS3 WRC only to crash heavily three corners into stage 11. His team manager Iwan Evans said it was unlikely that his car can be repaired to allow the youngster to restart under SupeRally on day three.
A car fire forced Martin Semerad’s retirement on Friday morning. The Czech was joint top of the PWRC drivers’ standings at the start of the rally.
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