15 Jun 2015

Paddon makes history at Rally Italy

11:04 am on 15 June 2015

The New Zealand driver Hayden Paddon has made history by finishing second at the World Rally Championship's Rally of Italy behind French Double world champion Sebastien Ogier.

The New Zealand rally driver Hayden Paddon at the Rally of Italy.

The New Zealand rally driver Hayden Paddon at the Rally of Italy. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Paddon's result was the best ever by a New Zealander in a full world rally championship event, surpassing the late Peter 'Possum' Bourne's third at Rally New Zealand in 1987.

The 28-year-old Hyundai driver had been in first place midway through the rally but relinquished the lead to Ogier yesterday when he spun and stalled and also hit a rock badly damaging his car.

That feat had made him the first New Zealander to lead a world championship rally outside his home country and Paddon was understandably stoked with the result after a tough four days.

"Very happy, to come home and get second place is an amazing result, a lot more than what we ever expected from the weekend and you know it's a huge credit to the team and everyone involved that have helped us progress and improve coming into this rally."

Paddon's team-mate Belgian Thierry Neuville took third place.

Paddon's previous best WRC finish was 5th in Sweden earlier this year.

His result in Italy is also the highest finish by a New Zealander in any World Rally Championship event outside of New Zealand.

Ogier paid tribute to Paddon saying he had a great race and is well deserving of second place.

"I'm very happy because I didn't expect such a result here," said Ogier.

"My times gradually got better without me having to force too much ...everything went to plan. The car was perfect and so were the weather conditions."

"Hayden Paddon had a great race. He is well deserving of second place."