Sunday, Jun 10 08:30am
AUTHOR: Matthew Hansen

Hayden Paddon rises to fourth overnight, Ogier and Neuville lead

Hayden Paddon and co-driver Sebastian Marshall have improved to fourth place overnight at Rally Italia Sardegna — round seven of the 2018 World Rally Championship. 


Having ended day one in sixth, Paddon would again benefit from a retirement ahead of him. This time it was Jari-Matti Latvala, who's Toyota Yaris stopped en route to service at the end of the day dropping him from third to eighth. 


Paddon's other positional gain was on Mads Østberg. The pair have been duelling in close quarters for the whole rally, with Paddon grabbing the position on SS12 after posting the third fastest time. From there to the day-ending SS16, the gap between the pair hasn't been bigger than six seconds. At the end of play, it was just 2.1 seconds. 


Watch SS13–SS16 highlights:


The battle for first is equally tight, as Sebastien Ogier tries to fend off Paddon's teammate Thierry Neuville. The gap is now down to a mere 3.9 seconds, while Esapekka Lappi sits third; 54.2-seconds adrift of Neuville and just over a minute ahead of Paddon. 


“We have definitely enjoyed the conditions today more than we did on Friday,” said Paddon.


“There has been a little bit of sweeping required, but nothing too detrimental. The grip was good on the morning loop and we recovered some of the positive feeling we had in shakedown.


“Rally Italia Sardegna certainly throws up a fair few surprises, as we’ve seen again today, so we played it smart and concentrated on clean runs. We tried to keep the pressure on Mads throughout the day, and it’s going to be a close-run final morning.


“There are important manufacturer points up for grabs, so we won’t be doing anything foolish but fourth is there for the taking, so we’ll do our best to defend it.”


Four stages are set to follow on the final day of Rally Sardegna. The field will take on the Cala Flumini and Sassari stages once each, before repeating to finish. 


Photo: Hyundai Motorsport


Day two standings (top 10)


1. Ogier/Ingrassia  3:02:16.9
2. Neuville/Gilsoul  +3.9
3. Lappi/Janne  +54.2
4. Paddon/Marshall  +2:01.8
5. Østberg/Eriksen  +2:03.9
6. Breen/Martin  +3:13.6
7. Kopecky/Dresler  +10:41.4
8. Latvala/Anttila  +10:48.3
9. Tänak/Järveoja  +12:27.4
10. Procop/Tomanek  +13:02.1