Saturday, Jun 9 08:11am
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Hayden Paddon moves to sixth as rivals retire on day one

Hayden Paddon and co-driver Sebastian Marshal lie sixth after the first full day of competition at Rally Italia Sardegna.


The rally claimed a few key contenders in a day that challenged the best of the World Rally Championship field. An early morning downpour made for some muddy stages in the morning before clearing up for a dry run through the afternoon.


Early rally leader Andreas Mikkelsen of Hyundai relinquished the lead to Sébastien Ogier after SS6, but stopped on SS7 with a gearbox issue and dropped out of contention. 


Hyundai were faced with the prospect of losing two of their leading drivers when Neuville had a close call on the final stage of the day. He ran wide in the stage and tore the rear wing from his i20. A mistake shortly afterwards added insult to injury as he dropped 10 seconds to Ogier. 


Meanwhile, Paddon had been holding station in eighth throughout the final leg of day one until Toyota's Ott Tänak and Ford pilot Teemu Suninen stopped in the final stage of the day.


Despite the late move up the order, Paddon said he wasn't pleased with their first day and hoped to be better come day two.


"We can’t be happy with our performance or results today," Paddon said.


"Whatever we have tried just hasn’t worked. Nothing has been clicking. We took a bit of a gamble this morning with the tyre choice, expecting it to dry out more than it eventually did.


"Tyres aside, we haven’t had the rhythm we need, nor the confidence to push. We have had little choice but to play the sensible game and get to the end of the day without having any issues.


"We are in the top-six but that is little consolation. We need to let the times come more naturally, and there are some things you can’t shake a magic wand at. We’ll sleep on it tonight and start again on Saturday morning."


Sébastien Ogier currently leads the rally ahead of Paddon's Hyundai teammate Thierry Neuville and Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala. 


Seven stages will be run on Saturday over a competitive distance of 146.56km – the longest individual day of the event – before the rally concludes on Sunday.


It’s anticipated Paddon and Marshall will run third on the road and the stages are expected to be drier than Friday’s conditions.


WRC Rally Italia Sardegna, day one top 10: 

1. Ogier/Ingrassia 1:35:56.9  
2. Neuville/Gilsoul 1:36:15.8 +18.9
Latvala/Anttila 1:36:34.1 +37.2
Lappi/Janne 1:36:38.5 +41.6
Østberg/Eriksen 1:36:55.2 +58.3
Paddon/Marshall 1:36:58.4 +1:01.5
Breen/Scott 1:37:22.9 +1:26.0
Lefebvre/Moreau 1:39:59.8 +4:02.9
Kopecký/Dresler 1:40:13.8 +4:16.9
Ciamin/de la Haye 1:41:17.6 +5:20.7


Photo: Hyundai Motorsport