Paddon in close fight at Rally Australia
The second day of the Coates Hire Rally Australia round of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship sees Kiwi stars Hayden Paddon and John Kennard locked in a tight battle with Mads Østberg and co-driver Jonas Andersson after 14 of the event’s 20 competitive stages.
The New Zealanders, in their Hyundai i20 WRC, hold seventh place overnight, just 7.3 seconds behind the Norwegian Østberg, who drives for the Citroën WRC team.
Saturday’s four rural stages showed tyre choice was a key factor after forecast rain did not eventuate. Having held sixth place after Friday’s opening stages and through Saturday morning until the second run through the monster 48.92 km Nambucca test early in the afternoon, Paddon and Kennard could not hold off the hard-chasing Østberg while contending with their own tyre choices.
Speaking in the Coffs Harbour service park after Saturday’s four country stages, Paddon said: “The afternoon has been alright. We were expecting a bit of rain this afternoon and elected to carry a couple of soft tyres in the car after the lunchtime service. The tyre choice has not been bad, but it did mean we had to have one of the softs on the car for the afternoon stages. This left it unbalanced and made it difficult to adapt to. Nevertheless, we managed the time loss to Mads and we’re definitely still in a battle with him for sixth.”
Speaking earlier in the day, while still running sixth, Paddon said: “It’s not been a bad morning. I’m feeling much more comfortable on these roads which we know well and we’ve been able to push a bit more. It’s been quite loose, running sixth on the road, so we’ve had to find the right balance with the driving between over-driving and under-driving. There’s still plenty more to come, but with Mads less than four seconds behind us, we’re in a really close battle with him for sixth. We can certainly improve a lot more. We’ll make some changes to the car for this afternoon’s repeat run and hopefully we can up the pace. If we can build that gap, great, but it’s certainly a very tight battle.”
In-line with his pre-event goals to step things up a notch, Paddon’s goal for the final day of the rally is to close that seven second gap to Østberg.
“It’s really good to be in a close fight for sixth place,” says Paddon whose has career-best WRC finish is eighth, a placing he’s now secured in three events. “We’re certainly going to give it everything, to fight tooth and nail on stages that we know well. Essentially we’ll be sticking to basics to get our Hyundai i20 WRC to the end in the best possible position.”
Paddon is the leading Hyundai for the second day of Rally Australia with Hyundai Motorsport team-mates Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul having had a strong day to improve to eighth – but they’re still adrift of Paddon by nearly one minute, 40 seconds. The team’s third pairing of Chris Atkinson and Stéphane Prevot wrap up the WRC field in 11th place.
Paddon wanted to acknowledge the support of Kiwi fans that have travelled to Rally Australia as part of the official Hayden Paddon RallySport Global tour or under their own initiative, or are supporting him from home. “It’s certainly a special feeling when there are so many supporters here or communicating with us via social media.”
The 12-14 September running of Rally Australia, the 10th round of the 2014 World Rally Championship, finishes on Sunday with the action moving north of Coffs Harbour on the New South Wales coast with around 100 km of competitive stages divided into three tests repeated both morning and afternoon before the event wraps up in Coffs Harbour with the finish ceremony.
Paddon and the HPRG team appreciates the support of their exclusive partners VINZ, PlaceMakers, Pak n’ Save and Hyundai New Zealand along with associate support from Z Energy, Scott Sports and New Balance. More information about the team can be found on haydenpaddon.com.
2014 Rally Australia: Overall classification after SS14
Pos, Driver, Total Time, Diff Prev, Diff 1st
1. S. OGIER, Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2:03:55.3, 0
2. J. LATVALA, Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2:04:07.1, +11.8, +11.8
3. A. MIKKELSEN, Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2:04:20.6, +13.5, +25.3
4. K. MEEKE, Citroën DS3 WRC, 2:04:22.1, +1.5, +26.8
5. M. HIRVONEN, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2:05:22.5, +1:00.4, +1:27.2
6. M. OSTBERG, Citroën DS3 WRC, 2:06:03.5, +41.0, +2:08.2
7. H. PADDON, Hyundai i20 WRC, 2:06:10.8, +7.3, +2:15.5
8. T. NEUVILLE, Hyundai i20 WRC, 2:07:47.7, +1:36.9, +3:52.4
9. E. EVANS, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2:07:54.3, +6.6, +3:59.0
10. R. KUBICA, Ford Fiesta RS WRC, 2:08:54.5, +1:00.2, +4:59.2
11. C. ATKINSON, Hyundai i20 WRC, 2:11:01.4, +2:06.9, +7:06.1
Rally Australia entry list – http://www.rallyaustralia.com.au/wrc-entry-list-now-available/
Rally Australia stages – http://www.rallyaustralia.com.au/spectator-guide/
Results, rally radio and live text available on www.wrc.com or the iRally app.