Hayden Paddon, Kennard prove worth in WRC

Kiwi Hayden Paddon finished a demanding Rally Italia Sardegna in 12th place on his debut for Hyundai Motorsport in the World Rally Championship.

Having been forced out by an engine misfire on the final stage of day two, Paddon restarted on day three and made it safely to the finish.

Sitting eighth overall team orders saw him stop to avoid further damage to their misfiring engine, which was running on three cylinders after a water splash.

The mishap meant the 27-year-old's missed out on any possible individual WRC points, with only the top 10 scoring.

Paddon, however, was upbeat and said it was good to get to the end of the rally.

"It's obviously been very challenging but to get through the stages and get some valuable time in the car is going to help us a lot so we can more forward from here."

"It's been great to be in the car; we've learned a lot, we've got a lot of data and information to take away from this and we're going to work hard for Poland, an event which is new for a lot of people which will help us.

"It's been a good weekend all in all."

Paddon's long-time co-driver John Kennard believes it was a very good debut.

"It went really well. It's a really technical event and we're here for the first time. Hayden's driven it well, he's learnt things and he's carried on progressing all the way through."

On the final day Paddon also managed a top five stage time, which shows his undoubted ability when he comes to terms with the new car.

Sebastien Ogier's win extended his championship lead to 33 points after a hard-fought victory over Mads Ostberg.

Paddon had always emphasised his first drive in the i20 WRC car was about seat time.

By driving virtually every stage of Rally Italia Sardegna from start to finish he gained valuable data about the car to contribute to the team.

"Overall it was pretty much a perfect event for us.

"Sure it was a pity we stopped for a while in one stage, but these things always happen so we've got over it, got out today and done some good times again."

Paddon's team-mates also had little luck.

Juho Hanninen rolled his Hyundai i20 on special stage 5 on opening day, while Neuville suddenly stopped 4.1km into the 27.3km stage with damaged front-right suspension, but restarted on day two and finished 16th overall.

Team principal Michel Nandan said they had a busy, tough but ultimately very productive rally here in Sardinia.

"We are not competing this year for stage times but to develop our Hyundai i20 WRC for each rally.

"Of course, it is nice when we show competitiveness, as indeed we have done in several stages. The team has done a fantastic job, working really hard and we leave here with lots of motivation for the next round in Poland. Thierry and Hayden have done a professional job."

The Timaru Herald