20 Nov 2017

Paddon salvages something from WRC season

7:27 am on 20 November 2017

The New Zealand rally driver Hayden Paddon has finished a difficult WRC season on a high, finishing third in Rally Australia.

World Rally Championship of Australia,  Haydon Paddon and co-driven by Sebastian Marshall

World Rally Championship of Australia, Haydon Paddon and co-driven by Sebastian Marshall Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Hyundai pairing stated their goal for this rally was to relax, enjoy the stages and let the results come. They didn't take an easy route to what is Paddon's best result in the Australian WRC round (his previous best result was fourth in 2016).

Paddon struggled with engine power issues on the opening day to be seventh overall and they were fifth after a muddy day two.

On the third day both Craig Breen and Jari-Matti Latvala crashed out handing Paddon third place behind team-mate Thierry Neuville and Ott Tanak in a Ford.

Paddon said: "It has been a difficult season for me. At least we have been able to bring the year to an end with a more representative result. We never want to score a podium through someone else's misfortune, and it's a shame for Jari-Matti, but it's a nice result for us after a tough year.

"There is some light at the end of the tunnel in terms of finding our feeling with the car. We have found some answers this weekend, which has been the main objective. We were quite lucky with the weather this morning, as we seemed to avoid the worst of the rain in Bucca and could take a stage win.

"Overall, the car felt better after we made another big change with the diff mapping overnight. We've just been gathering information for the future and were set on bringing the car home safely in third and our second podium of the season."

Paddon's team, Hyundai Motorsport, concluded its fourth WRC season with the fourth victory of the year.... the team finished second behind M-Sport Ford.

Paddon finishes the 2017 season eighth on the WRC drivers' championship table, compared to his best season result to date of fourth in 2016.

Hyundai has four drivers for next year with reports that Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen will have a car each and Paddon and Dani Sordo will share the third depending on the surface for each rally.

Sebastien Ogier was fourth, but the result was largely irrelevant given he was assured his fifth world title ahead of the Australian leg.