HAYDEN PADDON FEARED HIS DREAM DRIVE AT RALLY ITALIA SARDEGNA WAS OVER WHEN A ROCK STRIKE ON SATURDAY LEFT HIS HYUNDAI WITH A BROKEN GEARBOX.
“We struck a section of bedrock in a compression and the impact broke the gearbox,” he told wrc.com “We could smell oil pretty much straightaway and although we still had gears the unit was moving about and losing oil.”
The Kiwi was too upset to talk when he reached the stage end and drove off to assess the damage.
“I thought it was all over. It was similar to the problem we had in Argentina and it was end of our rally there,” he said. “But after talking to the team John [Kennard – co-driver] and I topped up the oil and used ratchet straps to tie everything so it didn’t move about. After that it was a case of crossing our fingers. I didn’t think it would make it – especially the long [42km] stage.
Paddon said the drive through the Monte Lerno repeat was a tense one. “We had to take it really easy – we didn’t want things moving around. I had to be very gentle with the braking, the throttle and try to drive around any bumps.”
Stage complete, he carefully nursed the car through the 95km journey back to the Hyundai service park in Alghero. The car will be repaired tonight, ready for Sunday’s final leg, when Paddon has his sights set on a career best result.
“We were lucky that Mads [Østberg] had a problem in the last stage and that’s given us a good margin” he explained. “All we’ve got to do tomorrow is have a clean day and hopefully we can finish second. That would be a dream result.”