Kiwi rally ace Hayden Paddon is 11th after the second day of the World Rally Championship's (WRC) Rally Poland this morning (NZ time).
Paddo, from Geraldine and co-driver John Kennard, from Blenheim are one minute and 24 seconds behind overall leader Sebastian Ogier after the seven stages on day two.
Piloting their Hyundai i20 WRC car in just their second event, the Kiwis were second-quickest on the opening stage of the day and just 0.7 seconds off stage winner Andreas Mikkelsen through the 12.89km stage.
It's very surprising. The driving wasn't too good and I thought I was driving like a pansy! The notes were too slow."
"I have been feeling comfortable in the car during the smooth stages and could get up to a good low-risk speed. I was pleased to set the second fastest time in this morning's first stage considering we still had pace in hand."
Paddon and Kennard ran 13th on the road for Friday's schedule of seven stages - three in Poland and four in Lithuania - with the starting order decided by drivers' championship positions. This road position worked in their favour on the day's opener, the Polish gravel stage swept clean by the front-runners. But on the softer, tree-lined roads of Lithuania, the Kiwis faced rutted roads which deteriorated with every passing competitor ahead of them. In fact, the conditions got so bad that the repeated run through the two Lithuanian stages was cancelled.
"The following two stages could not have been more different, quite difficult. It's been a lot rougher here in Lithuania, a lot of deep ruts and a lot of sand and I've really struggled in those conditions. But the feeling in the car is good; it's going great and we're making improvements. It's just a case of getting more time and more confidence."
Paddon and Kennard's repeated run through the morning's Polish stage saw them a comfortable sixth-quickest and having wrapped up the evening with a 2.5km super special stage, the Kiwis finish day two of Rally Poland in 11th place overall. teammates Thierry Neuville holds tenth after what was described as a 'character-building day' and Juho Hänninen holds a solid sixth place.
With ten stages ahead of them on Saturday (local time) Paddon is feeling more positive. "Tomorrow's stages are a bit more like the two stages we did well on today so hopefully we can be competitive tomorrow as well."
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