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Solid start for Paddon in Portugal

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 19/05/2016

New Zealand rally driver Hayden Paddon sits seventh after the opening day of Rally Portugal, more than two seconds behind early leader Sebastien Ogier.

The defending champion outpaced Paddon by 2.6sec on the 3.36km mixed surface special stage in northern Portugal.

Paddon's Hyundai teammate Thierry Neuville is second, .9sec behind Ogier, with another Hyundai driver in Dani Sordo third.

Rally Portugal comprises 19 stages over four days, with day two taking in two identical loops of three gravel stages near Viana do Castelo, close to the Spanish border.

Two asphalt street stages in the centre of Porto end the leg after 132km of racing.

Paddon is looking to build on his breakthrough win in the World Rally Championship at Rally Argentina last month, although the medium-speed Portuguese course doesn't play to his natural strengths.

When Paddon piloted his Hyundai across the line in Argentina, he became the first New Zealand driver to win a WRC event in the championship's 40-year history.

The result lifted the 29-year-old from Geraldine to second on the points table behind Ogier.

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