WRC king Sebastien Ogier leads Rally Sardinia going into the final day after the heroics of longtime pace-setter Hayden Paddon suffered several blows on Saturday.
Ogier holds a 2m13.6s advantage in his Volkswagen Polo R over Paddon’s Hyundai i20, whose lead was wiped out with a spin and then he hit a rock – damaging his car.
The duo were neck-and-neck through Saturday morning’s stages, and Paddon enjoyed better road conditions to extend his 8.8sec overnight lead by half a second.
But when the Kiwi spun and stalled his engine at a hairpin on the afternoon’s second stage, the Frenchman took the lead and extended it when Paddon struck a rock in the next test.
“I don’t want to be a drama queen but when it happened it ripped my heart out,” said Paddon, who had to repair the car himself and dropped 1m45s liming through the final stage.
“We hit a big rock on the driving line and I thought there was no way we could go on, but we strapped it up as best we could.”
Ogier – who complained that success on this event would be unlikely given his running order – said: “I never said leading was impossible, but I knew my chances were small. A lot of things happened today and it was very rough this afternoon.”
Paddon holds second from Citroen’s Mads Ostberg by 1m12s. Two slow punctures cost Ostberg 90s today.
He is 31.4s clear of Thierry Neuville’s Hyundai i20, the Belgian surviving a powersteering problem, which cost a 40sec penalty as he repaired it.
Elfyn Evans (Ford Fiesta RS) is fifth with Jari-Matti Latvala sixth in another Polo R but he dropped two minutes changing a tyre after knocking it off the rim in a heavy landing, and five minutes after hitting a rock and breaking his suspension.
|1||Sebastien Ogier (VW Polo)||3h54m43.9|
|2||Hayden Paddon (Hyundai i20)||3h56m57.5||+2m13.6|
|3||Mads Ostberg (Citroen DS3)||3h58m09.5||+3m25.6|
|4||Thierry Neuville (Hyundai i20)||3h58m40.9||+3m57.0|
|5||Elfyn Evans (Ford Fiesta)||3h59m59.4||+5m15.5|
|6||Jari-Matti Latvala (VW Polo)||4h02m52.5||+8m08.6|