24 May 2015

Paddon climbs to seventh

9:28 am on 24 May 2015

New Zealand's Hayden Paddon has climbed one place to seventh overall following the second day of the World Rally Championship's Rally of Portugal.

Hayden Paddon, Portugal, 2015.

Hayden Paddon, Portugal, 2015. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Jari-Matti Latvala clung on to his lead but he will have to hold off a hard-charging Sebastien Ogier tomorrow.

Ogier won three successive stages late on Saturday after failing to make many inroads in the morning session, eventually cutting his deficit to 9.5 seconds on his Volkswagen team-mate.

Latvala was also left to rue a poor tyre decision on the lengthy final stage as Ogier took a further five seconds off his lead, with the Frenchman also having an extra soft tyre to use on the final day as well.

Britain's Kris Meeke goes into Sunday's finale in third place, 20 seconds behind Latvala, but he lost ground in the afternoon stages after looking like taking the lead at one point in the morning.

Meeke, driving for Citroen, lost second place to 2014 champion Ogier on the final stage and he is only just over a second ahead of fourth-placed Andreas Mikkelsen of Norway.

Estonia's Ott Tanak is the best placed Ford runner in fifth, 71 seconds off the leader, with Dani Sordo nearly two minutes back in sixth.

Hyundai's New Zealand driver Paddon moved up to seventh place in the overall standings.

Paddon and co-driver John Kennard set a string of top-six stage times throughout the day and are involved in a close battle for sixth.

"Overall, it's been another pretty good day although we ran into some late drama when we hit a rock just 1km from the end of the final stage," Paddon said.

"We were fortunate to make it back to service. Looking at the day as a whole, we have been able to keep the same pace as we showed yesterday and it's been pleasing to make up ground in the overall standings."

"Tyre tactics have kept things interesting but in hindsight there hasn't really been a right or wrong choice."

"I struggled a bit at the end of the morning loop due to a lack of experience with crossed over tyres but apart from that we've just focused on each stage as it comes and we have three final stages tomorrow to bring the car home as strongly as we can."

The legendary Fafe stage will be run twice tomorrow morning, once as the Power Stage, sandwiching the long 32.35km Vieira do Minho stage.

Tomorrow the final three stages are raced, the first and last of which are run over the same Fafe circuit, but the title could be won and lost on the 32km-long Vieira do Minho stage.