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Paddon solid in Rally Italia opener

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 10/06/2016

Hayden Paddon and John Kennard of New Zealand compete in their Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 WRC during the SS4 Viana do Castelo of the WRC Portugal on May 20, 2016 © Octavio Passos/Getty Images Hayden Paddon and John Kennard of New Zealand compete in their Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 WRC during the SS4 Viana do Castelo of the WRC Portugal on May 20, 2016 New Zealand rally driver Hayden Paddon's brand new Hyundai i20 has survived its first test on the first stage of Rally Italia in Sardinia.

World champion Sebastien Ogier won the the opening speed test, defeating Paddon by 1.3sec in the final heat of the 2km special stage at Ittiri Arena, a former autocross track.

Two cars at a time competed head-to-head around two laps of the track on wide roads which include a jump and a watersplash.

Hayden Paddon of New Zealand during the press conference of the WRC Portugal on May 19, 2016 in Porto, Portugal © Getty Hayden Paddon of New Zealand during the press conference of the WRC Portugal on May 19, 2016 in Porto, Portugal Ogier's 2min 00.4sec effort topped the overall standings, .3sec ahead of both Norwegian Ott Tanak and Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland), while Paddon clocked 2:01.7 to sit seventh.

The Kiwi was satisfied with his effort, especially given the unfamiliar state of his new car.

"This is an unusual super special, pretty wide, but my driving felt better - tidier than I have done before," he said afterwards

Paddon's crew started from scratch in building a new car for Rally Italia after the previous car was destroyed in a fiery crash in the fifth round leg in Portugal two weeks ago.

It dropped Paddon one spot to fourth in the overall standings following an historic win at the Rally Argentina in April.

Rally Italia, based in Alghero in north-western Sardinia, continues on Saturday (NZT) with a morning loop of four rough-road gravel stages, which is repeated in the afternoon after service.

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