Paddon and Kennard second in Rally Sweden (Day 1)

| Photographer Credit: Timo Anis Photography

Kiwi rally drivers Hayden Paddon and John Kennard have finished Friday’s shortened leg of WRC Sweden with a strong second place on the leader-board.

With road conditions much improved since recce two days ago, the Swedish rally was able to get underway with six stages on Friday instead of the scheduled eight.

Paddon says the morning’s three stages weren’t so easy with the road position, being further back – he finished the morning in sixth overall. “Driving the car in competition for the first time, means a few things to adapt to. We know from experience that the afternoon loops are better with the road conditions, so we’ll have to hope we can get a bit closer.”

As heavy snow started to fall, the three stages were run in reverse order for the afternoon. Paddon and Kennard were able to push on to win the final two stages of the day and leap-frog competitors suffering mechanical woes into second place behind world champion Sebastian Ogier.

At the end of Friday, Paddon said: “To be in second was much more than we were expecting, especially after this morning. Okay, we had an advantage this afternoon (running ninth on the road) which was a disadvantage this morning when there was no snow. To come up to second, to be in a good close fight with four or five of us to be on the podium tomorrow is a nice position to be in. but it’s going to be a big fight, very close, we have to try and find some improvements overnight, try and get a bit more comfortable in the car. There’s a lot more room for improvement so we have to keep pushing.”

Paddon and Kennard could benefit again on Saturday with their road position of ninth (running order is decided by championship places for the first two days) when more snow is forecast. Just 15 seconds separates Paddon in second and Andreas Mikkelsen in sixth, setting up a closely-fought five-way battle.

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