Sixth in Argentina inches Paddon up WRC leader-board
Photo credit: McKlein Images

Sixth in Argentina inches Paddon up WRC leader-board

A sixth-place finish in the 2017 edition of Rally Argentina wasn’t the result Hayden Paddon was hoping for, but successfully completing the tough event he won last year has at least inched the Kiwi into seventh equal place on the FIA World Rally Championship drivers’ points table.

Paddon said: “You could not have written a script more opposite to what we had here last season. We’ve gone from a career high to a result that is much lower on the scale. I just can’t believe our luck.”

Paddon and co-driver John Kennard had a clean run through Thursday (ART) night’s 1.75 km super special stage in the streets of Cordoba city which opened the rally, setting the seventh quickest time.

But Friday’s gravel stages didn’t pan out as planned. “It started off quite alright in the first couple splits in the first stage and the car was feeling good. But then, it got quite rough and we got caught in a slow hairpin left and the car sort of caught a rut and very slowly rolled over, which caught us out by surprise.”

The pair lost over two minutes to the front-runners as they pushed the car back on its wheels and got going again. After dropping to19th overall after that stage, the pair steadily climbed back up the leader-board to finish the morning in eighth place.

Two stage wins, one with a first equal time with rally leader Elfyn Evans, showed the Kiwis had some good pace on Friday afternoon’s repeated loop. They finished Friday in seventh, but with a two-minute gap to Jari-Matti Latvala in sixth.

“Our issue on Friday was long behind us as we started to show some improved performance,” said Paddon. “There was not much we could do about our position but we wanted to build a rhythm.”

However, a broken rear roll-bar hampered Saturday’s performance and meant they incurred a one-minute time penalty for being late into a time control checkpoint. Despite that, Paddon was pretty happy with his pace as he secured two third-fastest stage times to wrap up the day.

“Not too bad a day today,” said Paddon following Saturday’s competitive stages. “This morning we had to battle with a bit of road cleaning, so we were quite happy with our speed considering. This afternoon we wanted to push and be a bit more competitive, but unfortunately a broken rear roll bar put a damper on that and we had to do the best with what we had. We know where the pace is and we’re quite happy with the speed considering. We’re back on the pace and that gives us a bit of confidence moving forward to tomorrow and future gravel rallies.”

But after the final three stages on Sunday, all Paddon could say was: “I didn’t have the feeling with the car in this morning’s stages, and that culminated with a power steering problem in the power stage. We struggled to the finish but sixth place is not where we want to be.”

There was more positive news for Hyundai Motorsport, however, with Thierry Neuville and co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul taking their second rally win of the 2017 season. The result marks the team’s second win in a row after Tour de Corse, and its fifth WRC victory in total. Not only is it the first time that Hyundai Motorsport has secured back-to-back successes, the Belgian crew also become the first repeat winners of the 2017 season. Meanwhile the team’s third crew, Dani Sordo and co-driver Marc Martí, struggled to overcome a 11-minute time loss from a broken steering arm on Friday, bringing their car home in eighth.

Paddon and Kennard return to Europe for the next WRC event, Rally Portugal, running 18 to 21 May.

Paddon and Hayden Paddon RallySport Global (HPRG) Ltd appreciates the support of their exclusive partners, Hyundai New Zealand, Pak’nSave and Z Energy, and associate sponsors Scott Sports and All About Signs Timaru.


Final Overall Classification – Rally Argentina

1          T. Neuville        N. Gilsoul         Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC    3:38:10.6
2          E. Evans            D. Barritt          Ford Fiesta WRC                  +0.7
3          O. Tanak           M. Jarveoja      Ford Fiesta WRC                  +29.9
4          S. Ogier             J. Ingrassia      Ford Fiesta WRC                  +1:24.7
5          J. M. Latvala    M. Anttila         Toyota Yaris WRC                +1:48.1
6          H. Paddon        J. Kennard       Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC    +7:42.7
7          J. Hänninen     K. Lindstrom   Toyota Yaris WRC                 +11:16.9
8          D. Sordo           M. Martí           Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC     +14:44.1
9          M. Østberg       O. Floene          Ford Fiesta WRC                   +15:11.3
10         P. Tidemand   J. Andersson    Škoda Fabia R5                     +17:32.1


2017 FIA World Rally Championship for Drivers’ Standings

After round 5

1          S. Ogier             102
2          J.M Latvala      86
3          T. Neuville        84
4          O. Tanak           66
5          D. Sordo           51
6          E. Evans           42
7=        C. Breen           33
7=        H. Paddon       33
9          K. Meeke          27
10         J. Hänninen    15
11         A. Mikkelsen    12
12         S. Lefebvre       10


2017 FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers’ Standings

After round 5

1          M-Sport World Rally Team                                  162
2          Hyundai Motorsport                                              140
3          Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC                                  99
4          Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team    71

All results remain subject to official FIA confirmation.


Hayden Paddon’s 2017 WRC schedule with Hyundai Motorsport

WRC Round 1: Monte Carlo, 19-22 January
WRC Round 2: Sweden, 9-12 February
WRC Round 3: Mexico, 9-12 March
WRC Round 4: France, 6-9 April
WRC Round 5: Argentina, 27-30 April
WRC Round 6: Portugal, 18-21 May
WRC Round 7: Italy, 8-11 June
WRC Round 8: Poland, 29 June – 2 July
WRC Round 9: Finland, 27-30 July
WRC Round 10: Germany, 17-20 August
WRC Round 11: Spain, 5-8 October
WRC Round 12: Great Britain, 26-29 October
WRC Round 13: Australia, 16-19 November


by Kate Gordon-Smith/Relish Communications

Photo credit: McKlein Images


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