24 Apr 2016

Paddon on top and chasing maiden win

10:49 am on 24 April 2016

New Zealand's Hayden Paddon is in first place at the end of the penultimate day the WRC's Rally Argentina.

Hayden Paddon jumps in Argentina.

Hayden Paddon jumps in Argentina. Photo: Timo Anis Photography

The Hyundai driver won the day's first two stages to climb to second and a win in the fifth stage pushed him into top spot following a crash to previous pace setter Finland's Jarri-Matti Latvala.

Paddon will start the final day 29.8 seconds ahead of second placed Frenchman Sebastian Ogier.

The 29-year-old had three first, a third and two fourth place finishes in the six stages raced today.

The Geraldine raised driver is yet to win a World Rally Championship event, with his best result a second place finish in February's Rally Sweden and last year's Rally Italy.

If Paddon holds on to his lead, he'll become the first New Zealander to win a WRC Rally.

There are three stages on the final day of the rally tomorrow morning (NZ time).

Paddon was fifth in the overall drivers standings heading into Rally Argentina.

"A very good day today. We're very surprised to be leading the rally but it's a nice position to be in," Paddon said.

"Following a good morning, we unfortunately struggled a bit this afternoon with the tyre choice. It's very unfortunate what happened to Jari with his accident but we were close enough to put on the pressure and pick up the pieces.

"There's still a long way to go with very tough stages," added Paddon as he chases his maiden WRC victory in only his second full season competing on the WRC circuit

"We have to try and stay relaxed tonight and calm tomorrow because a 30sec lead over a three-time world champion on some of the toughest stages in the championship is not a big gap. We'll try to keep a good speed and try and make no mistakes tomorrow""

Paddon's Hyundai Motorsport team-mates Dani Sordo and Thierry Neuville are holding fourth and seventh respectively.

This is not the first time Paddon and Kennard have led a WRC event - in 2015, they topped the leader-board at Rally Italy Sardinia for 15 stages before a spin which meant they secured their first-ever second place in a WRC event.

Tomorrow's final leg of Rally Argentina comprises 55.28 competitive kilometres broken into three stages, including two runs in the famed El Condor stage with its moonlike landscape among the rock-strewn roads of the Traslasierra mountains.

The sunshine from earlier in the weekend is due to give way to rain and much cooler temperatures, so the final day could yet spring surprises.

Hayden Paddon in action in Argentina.

Hayden Paddon in action in Argentina. Photo: Timo Anis Photography