Hayden Paddon and John Kennard started their Rally Australia campaign on a positive note to hold third place overall after the morning loop of four stages. However some handling issues with their Hyundai i20 WRC car combined with an increase in pace from their fellow WRC competitors saw the Kiwis drop to fifth place following stage six. At that point, less than nine seconds covered the five cars from Jari-Matti Latvala in second to Ogier who had climbed to sixth behind Paddon in the overall standings.
The final two stages saw Paddon and Kennard further contending with the handling issues and slip another position to sixth overall. With just 25 seconds between the rally leader, Latvala, and Paddon, he plans to continue pushing on Saturday’s four stages, which he rates as some of his favourite on this event.
Paddon said: “It’s been an up and down start to the rally. This morning went okay, but we had a bit of an advantage with our road position and to be third at lunchtime was nice. We didn’t quite have the feeling with the car and made a slightly ambitious tyre choice so we were looking to improve that this afternoon. But unfortunately we’ve had some kind of mysterious, strange feeling with the car this afternoon. We’re not quite sure what it is, but basically in all right-hand corners the balance and the feeling of the car been like you’ve got a puncture almost. We’ll sit down tonight and look at the data and see what the problem is. But it’s still pretty close. We’re only 25 seconds off the lead in sixth, so we’ll make some changes tonight, try and sort this problem, and we can have a good push in the morning again.”