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Paddon pushes rally leaders

NZN 23/04/2016

Hayden Paddon is pushing the pacemakers and sits third after the first full day of racing at Rally Argentina.

Paddon never finished outside the top five in eight special stages, finishing runner-up four times and winning once in an intriguing day which covered 150.08km, primarily on fast and sandy gravel roads in the Calamuchita Valley.

Paddon and co-driver John Kennard are just 11.4sec behind leader Jari-Matti Latvala of Finland, who leads second-placed Frenchman Sebastien Ogier by 7.9sec.

Paddon's win came in the Soconcho-Villa del Dique sixth stage, the second time he had attacked the 24.7km leg early on Saturday (NZT).

In his first effort, the New Zealander finished second, 1.3sec down on Ogier's winning 13min 00.1sec.

Paddon lifted in his second run, clocking 12:54.6 to pip Ogier by 0.1sec on a run which proved punishing on his Hyundai i20.

"I've cleaned up my driving a lot since this morning," Paddon said.

"The bedrock is pretty hard on the car."

Paddon's worst placing of the day was fifth in the two-lap 6.04km final stage, 4.1sec down on Ogier.

"It's still pretty neck and neck. I have a problem now with a rear damper - it's nothing serious - and overall, I'm really happy with my day."

On day two, drivers face two identical loops of three stages north-west of Villa Carlos Paz on for a total 158.82km.

Paddon finished fifth in his last WRC outing last month in Rally Mexico, and after three rallies in the 14-event championship also sits fifth overall.

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