SS4-5: Paddon widens lead in Italy
Rally Italia Sardegna
New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon won three of the four special stages to lead Rally Italia Sardegna after the opening morning on Friday.
Having won the first two stages, the Hyundai i20 driver completed his hat-trick in the Montiferru test before wrapping up the morning with fifth in Sagama. He reached service in the rally base of Alghero with a 23.0sec lead.
“To be leading is amazing,” he said. “It’s a lot more than we were aiming for this morning. It will be rougher this afternoon and we need to look after the car.”
Jari-Matti Latvala retained second, the Finn happy but promising more in his Volkswagen Polo R. “Generally it’s been an OK morning. I’m quite satisfied but I know I can improve my driving,” he said.
Sébastien Ogier climbed to third when team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen retired after breaking the rear right suspension. The Norwegian hit a hole in SS3 and completed Montiferru with the rear of the car dragging along the ground. He made repairs (below) but stopped on the liaison section with no fuel pressure.
Road opener Ogier was content, having spent the morning sweeping gravel from the road. He was only 2.1sec behind Latvala. “Unfortunately there wasn’t quite enough rain for me but I could have lost more time and I’m happy with my tyre strategy,” said the Frenchman.
Dani Sordo was fourth, although the Spaniard was frustrated at losing 1.6sec to stage winner Ogier in Sagama. He was 9.9sec behind the championship leader and 4.0sec ahead of Hyundai team-mate Thierry Neuville.
The Belgian was second in Montiferru despite stalling at a hairpin and drove Sagama with a flat tyre after a second deflation of the morning. Ott Tänak was 2.4sec behind in sixth in a Ford Fiesta RS with Martin Prokop and Mads Østberg next.
Citroën’s Østberg dropped 45sec after puncturing the rear right tyre and breaking the wheel on his DS 3 when he slid wide and hit a rock in a narrow corner. WRC 2 leader Paolo Andreucci and Esapekka Lappi completed the leaderboard.
Elfyn Evans was 17th after his problems were traced to a broken driveshaft while Khalid Al Qassimi was even further down after a problem filled morning in his DS 3.
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