HAYDEN PADDON HAS SAID HE’S ‘FIGHTING FIT’ FOR NEXT WEEKEND’S RALLY ITALIA SARDEGNA (7-10 JUNE) FOLLOWING HIS RALLY-ENDING CRASH AT LAST MONTH’S VODAFONE RALLY DE PORTUGAL.
The Hyundai i20 driver was battling for the lead before the accident on the second run of Friday’s Ponte de Lima stage. Paddon ran wide to avoid a stone on the inside of a corner and collided with a drainage culvert which stopped the car instantly and caused extensive damage to the left-hand side.
After complaining of lower back pain, Paddon was airlifted to hospital in Porto for a precautionary check-up and released a day later.
“I am feeling fighting fit after the incident in Portugal and I’m ready to get back down to business,” Paddon said. “Up to that point, we were able to show a competitive level of performance, taking a stage win and battling for the lead.”
Italy has special significance for the New Zealander as the rally where he claimed his first WRC podium in 2015. That was despite having to recover from a spin and stall on Monti di Alà 2 and breaking a part of the Hyundai’s drivetrain on a rock on the second run of Monte Lerno.
Paddon looked to be on course for his second WRC win in Italy last year, but an ‘amateur mistake’ on day two – clipping a bank and damaging the rear-suspension on the i20 – forced him to retire from the lead. That disappointment has given him more motivation for this year.
“It is a rally I enjoy, and where I have good memories. I scored my first WRC podium there in 2015 and led the rally in 2017. I would like to finish off what we started last year,” he explained.