Hayden Paddon seventh at WRC's Rally Poland
New Zealand's top rally driver Hayden Paddon is seventh overall after the first three stages of the World Rally Championship's Rally Poland this morning (NZ time).
Competing in just their second event as the Hyundai Motorsport N entry, Paddon and co-driver John Kennard successfully completed the opening three stages of the Polish event with what Paddon, from Geraldine, described as "encouraging stage times".
Their pace sees the Kiwis seventh overall, just two seconds behind their teammate Thierry Neuville, while the third Hyundai driver Juho Hanninen is fourth overall, having won the second special stage.
Frenchman Sebastien Ogier will take a narrow 2.8 second lead into the second day.
"Everything's going well so far,'' Paddon said.
''We've done three stages tonight and are feeling more confident and comfortable in the car. We took it calmly today and drove well within our limits.
''Certainly the stages suit me better and the times have been much improved from Sardinia."
Paddon finished 12th in the Rally Italia in June.
''We definitely learned a lot in Sardinia and we have tried to carry that knowledge over into this rally to close the gap to Thierry and Juho. I think we have achieved that today with three encouraging stage times.
''To be only two seconds behind Thierry is great, but obviously there's a long way to go. The car has been working well and we have plenty more to come so it's not too bad at all.
''We will sit down with the engineers this evening to plan tomorrow's stages, which includes a remote service and four stages in Lithuania, which will be an enjoyable challenge for us.''
Looking ahead to Friday and Saturday's seven and ten stages respectively, Paddon said the soft roads were a real challenge.
"The big challenge here is just how soft the roads are. They are going to cut up a lot especially on the repeat stages, and just knowing how much they're going to cut up is the big unknown at this stage. In the meantime we need to make the most of the first loop of stages when it's not so rough."
The Timaru Herald