Hayden Paddon and John Kennard started the first full day of Rally Spain, the penultimate round of the 2015 FIA World Rally Championship, with an impressive stage time – first equal with Mads Ostberg on the 9.62km opening stage. Third quickest time in the next stage saw the Kiwis leap into third overall by mid-morning. However the intense tyre wear, worse road conditions and a small issue with their car on the repeated afternoon runs saw Paddon and Kennard struggle to maintain their position and they finished the day in seventh overall.
Following the morning stages, during the tyre refitting session (no midday service on Friday), Paddon said: “Not a bad start. Obviously we’ve been trying to make the most of our road position so to be first equal on the first stage was nice. Okay, we struggled in the long stage (35.68km mixed surface Terra Alta). I think in four years we’ve never had a good run in this stage, so there are plenty of improvements to make. We don’t have a full service but we’ll make some changes and see if we can move up the leader-board this afternoon. These are tricky conditions, for sure.”
At the day’s end, as their Hyundai Motorsport crew converted their Hyundai i20 WRC car from gravel to asphalt settings in a longer than usual service, Paddon said: “An okay day; not our best day, but not our worst either. It’s all pretty close within the top 8 or 9 cars, so we hit something quite small and we’ve been trying to look after tyres today, there’s been a bit of tyre strategy with the high wear. The stages have been a bit rougher on the repeat runs which I’ve struggled with a little bit. The feeling in the car hasn’t been 100% and I think that’s what’s cost us that little bit of time, but all in all not a bad day. We’ve got through, we’re in the top seven and it’s all pretty close going into the tarmac stages, so we’ll press the reset button overnight obviously with the tarmac and see if we can improve tomorrow.”