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Consistent Paddon leads Rally of Italy

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 9/06/2017

Hayden Paddon's consistency has propelled him to the overall lead after the first full day of Rally Italia Sardegna.

Kiwi driver Paddon has so far failed to win stage at the World Rally Championship event but top-four placings in six of the nine completed legs were enough to forge a narrow overall lead.

He and British co-driver Sebastian Marshall hit the front when there were third in the fifth stage and held it for the remainder of the day.

They sit just eight seconds clear of second-placed Belgian Thierry Neuville, a Hyundai works team-mate.

Estonian Ott Tanak is just over a second further back, with 41sec separating the top seven cars.

Paddon was delighted to cling to the lead after his car experienced a small suspension problem late in the day.

"To be leading is a nice surprise. We had a plan which was to keep it clean and tidy today," he said.

"Too often this year we've been caught out on the Friday, so today was a nice, clean day with no risks."

Paddon's only previous rally win came last year in Argentina.

He has endured a difficult 2017, marred by technical issues, leaving him placed eighth overall coming into this weekend.

From experience at the rally, Paddon expects his driving to be better suited to six longer stages on Saturday and the final four on Sunday.

"Now that we're in this position, we want to fight. We'll push a lot more as well and see if we can defend it."

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