Sunday , May 22 2022

Under pressure, Hayden Paddon delivers in Rally Australia, finishing second



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Hayden Paddon has given his ongoing contract negotiations with Hyundai, a major impetus, with the best finished season in the final rally of the WRC in 2018.

The Kiwi driver, who has not finished another WRC car in 2019, finished second at Kennards Hire Rally Australia in Coffs Harbor on Sunday.

Under pressure to make an attempt to win a contract, Paddon stood up when he counted on difficult Sundays to offer a potential career defining unity under all sorts of expectations.

Paddon was worried for much of the weekend, including Sunday, when overcast rain and heavy rain were made for difficult conditions and created a few final WRC season.

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Toyota, Jari-Matti Latvala, won the Australian Rally victory 32.5 seconds ahead of Paddon with Mads Østberg with another 19.7 seconds in the third.

Latvala's victory helped Toyota secure the WRC championship.

Hayden Paddon won third round at Rally Australia.

GETTY images

Hayden Paddon won third round at Rally Australia.

But Latvala's victory was overshadowed by Sébastien Ogier of M-Sport Ford, who finished the sixth World Rally Championship after finishing fifth.

In the Australian Rally, Ogier had a 23-point lead in Paddon's teammate Thierry Neuville, with another 20 points back to Ott Tänak.

Paddon, who felt comfortable third, was promoted in the second half in the penultimate stage of the rally, when Tänak stepped out of the way and put an end to both his rally hopes and championship.

His mission gave Ogier the championship before the final round.

He finished the season with 219 points, 18 of Neuville (201), the third with 181 points.

Neuville suffered a torrid weekend and championship chances were hit after being hit at Coffs Harbor.

He was eventually removed from the mess when he suffered suspension damage and lost a wheel after he hit a tree in stage 22.

Paddon, 31, finished the final stage of the Australian Rally in sixth place, 4.6 seconds after the Ogier winner.

Paddon and British co-driver Seb Marshall were the first of three Rally Australia's Hyundai cars in polished performance.

The second placement was the best result since leaving Poland in July last year.

Paddon, who competed only in seven of the 13 WRC rounds in 2018, won three stages in the weekend and was consistently in pace with the world's best drivers despite not participating in WRC racing, as he finished seventh in Wales Rally GB October.

Hyundai dropped Paddon's schedule in 2018 after a disastrous 2017 and the decision to escape from a team of four to three cars.

Paddon and Marshall finished third in the Rally Australia 2017 edition.

It was also their last rally together. Marshall is inclined to head to Toyota, but this has yet to be confirmed.

The most likely scenario for Paddon in 2019 is the status quo – another season split with Spaniard Dani Sordo, but still does not have to be confirmed as a co-pilot.

Paddon and Sordo shared a Hyundai in 2018.

Paddon ends the WRC year with a second, third, second, fifth, seventh and one DNF after crashing while driving the Rally of Portugal.

He also won the fourth rally championship in New Zealand during the WRC disconnection periods.

* Mat Kermeen traveled to Coffs Harbor with WRC support.

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