26 Oct 2014

Paddon improves in Spain

1:07 pm on 26 October 2014

Hayden Paddon has moved up the leader-board into ninth place at the Rally of Spain following a successful completion of Sunday's six tarmac stages.

Hayden Paddon's Hyundai I20 WRC

Hayden Paddon's Hyundai I20 WRC Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The penultimate round of the World Rally Championship is the first event featuring asphalt stages that the Kiwi has contested in 12 months.

The Spanish event is the only WRC rally of the season that uses both gravel and asphalt stages.

Paddon says there's plenty of learning going on being back on tarmac stages after the previous day's excitement of taking his first-ever WRC stage win on the event's first day of gravel tests.

"In a way, it's been a bit more of a trying day today, back on tarmac for the first time in 12 months," said Paddon.

"Having said that, it's been a good day of learning and we are moving up the leader-board. There's been a little bit of adapting to with a new tyre this year as well, it means the car's moving around a lot more and we are struggling with the front of the car for precision, which in turn is costing us corner speed. We know where the time is and we will change more of the setup overnight to keep trying to improve. All-in-all we haven't been too far off our team-mates Thierry and Dani who are tarmac specialists and that's certainly encouraging."

Starting the day 14th overall, Paddon and co-driver John Kennard set ninth and tenth quickest times during the morning's stages to improve to 10th overall by lunchtime.

On Monday, the event wraps up with just 72.06 km of competitive stages - two runs through two repeated tarmac stages.

Meanwhile, Sebastien Ogier is still on course to retain his world title despite seeing his lead cut over the day's first three special stages.

The Frenchman started day two of the second last round of the 2014 championship 36.6sec ahead of Volkswagen teammate Jari-Matti Latvala, the only man who can deprive him of the title.

But by the end of the third special, Latvala had made inroads into his lead and was 28.3sec adrift, with another Finn Mikko Hirvonen in a Ford Fiesta third, 51.9sec behind.

Ogier went into Spain with a 27-point lead over Latvala in the standings.

The Finn must finish above Ogier, taking at least two more points, to remain in the hunt at the Wales Rally GB next month.