18 Nov 2018

Hayden Paddon has best result of season at Rally Australia

5:18 pm on 18 November 2018

New Zealand driver Hayden Paddon enjoyed a season-best finish in the final World Rally Championship of 2018, finishing second at Rally Australia in Coffs Harbour.

Hayden Paddon

Hayden Paddon Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The second placing was his best result since being the runner-up in Poland back in July last year.

Paddon said he was very happy with the finish. "We worked hard all weekend and felt great in the car."

Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala claimed the victory 32.5 seconds ahead of Paddon.

But Latvala's win was overshadowed by Sébastien Ogier clinching his sixth straight World Rally Championship after finishing back in fifth.

The Frenchman started a wet day three needing to hold his spot ahead of Thierry Neuville, while overnight rally leader Ott Tanak also remained a chance of jumping him if disaster struck for the Ford driver.

Instead it was that pair that failed to finish, with Neuville clipping a tree with three stages remaining and Tanak running off the road on the penultimate stage.

Neither were able to recover, with the dual retirements assuring Ogier another title regardless of how he fares on the season's final passage.

The title contending pair's misfortune capped a rally that wasn't short on drama, with stray tractors, rogue spectators and a final-day downpour combining to push drivers to the limits on the 13th and final leg of the series.

But as rivals fell around him the Frenchman held firm to edge within three world titles of the sport's most successful driver Sebastien Loeb.

"It's even hard to keep the car on the road while driving so slow," he said of the challenge before news of his triumph filtered through.

"I'm just trying to go through and even this is difficult. It's crazy."

Ogier will join Citroen next year after two successful seasons with Ford, with Neuville (Hyundai) and Tanak (Toyota) again forced back to the drawing board after coming closer than ever before to toppling their tormenter.