Electrical problems plague Kiwi Hayden Paddon on second day of Rally Portugal
Electrical faults have short-circuited Hayden Paddon's challenge early on in Rally Portugal after he briefly took the lead on the second day.
Competing in the first full day of the Portugal leg of the World Rally Championship, the Kiwi and new co-driver Sebastian Marshall mixed the good with the bad to slip back to 24th overall.
They demonstrated great pace with two stage wins, but were hampered by electrical issues on the third stage and then again, much more severely, on special stage seven.
Having started Friday's (European time) itinerary of eight stages second overall following a good run in Thursday's opening 3.36km super special, Paddon took the overall rally lead with his win in the first stage of the day.
But then bad luck struck again for the New Zealand rally star.
"Certainly, a case of what could have been again," Paddon said afterwards. "Today's certainly been a very positive day for the future anyway, with the changes we made before the rally, everything was working a lot better in the car and the setup.
"The confidence was good so we were able to set some fastest stage times. We had a small electrical problem on the morning loop which cost us seven seconds but, other than that, it was all going to plan."
Then came the major turn for the worse after some setup changes for the afternoon.
"It was going really well, we had a good tyre strategy, everything was working really well in the car and we'd just taken the lead, only for the car to stop with an electronic problem halfway through the last stage," he added.
"That puts paid to any result for this rally.
"It's frustrating. It's yet again a story of bad luck. We're not quite sure what's caused the problem. The team will get it rectified and we'll come back and get some experience for the last two days.
"We'll keep working and keep moving forward because I'm sure this run of bad luck will turn around soon."
The running order for Saturday's (Euro time) six stages is reverse classification order for all WRC P1 drivers, which means Paddon and Marshall will be second on the road behind Valeriy Gorban.
The rally continues on Sunday with just four stages.
The 30-year-old from Geraldine, a rally winner for the first time in the WRC last season, has had a frustrating start to the 2017 season.
A combination of small mistakes, mechanical issues and bad luck leave him tied for seventh overall after five rounds of the 13-round championship.
Marshall is making an earlier than expected appearance as the Geraldine driver's co-pilot in Portugal.
The 28-year-old from Leeds was scheduled to take over the role permanently after Rally Finland in July but has been called on with longtime Paddon co-driver John Kennard given medical advice to rest a niggling hip injury.