New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon and John Kennard have made a solid start to their 2016 World Rally Championship campaign today.
The Hyundai driver is holding fifth place after two Thursday night stages (Friday morning NZ time) at Rallye Monte Carlo.
Paddon, who is competing at Monte Carlo for the first time, was seventh fastest in the opening stage and then posted an impressive fourth fastest time in stage two to climb to fifth place overall.
The first two stages were run in darkness and mixed conditions with sections of snow and ice along with dry tarmac in the mountain roads as the rally moved from its ceremonial start formalities in Monaco’s Casino Square to the main service park and rally base at Gap.
World champion Sebastien Ogier won the opening stage in his Volkswagen Polo but a storming time from Northern Ireland’s Kris Meeke (Citroen) saw a change of lead after stage two.
With 41.6km of competition completed Meeke leads the rally by 6.9secs from Ogier with Volkswagen’s Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) a further 13.1ses back.
Belgian Thierry Neuville has given the new generation Hyundai I20 WRC a promising start and holds fourth. Neuville trails Mikkelsen by 11.4ses and holds a 3.5secs advantage over Paddon, who remains behind the wheel of a 2015 specification Hyundai for the season opener.
Norway’s Mads Ostberg is the leading Ford Fiesta driver in sixth place and is just 0.4secs behind Paddon. Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala (VW), Poland’s Robert Kubica (Ford), Frenchman Stephane Lefebvre (Citroen) and Spain’s Dani Sordo (Hyundai) complete the top 10.
The rally resumes this evening (NZ time) with a Friday leg comprising six stages totalling 116km.