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Paddon fifth in WRC Rally Australia, Ogier world champ
By Colin Smith • 13/09/2015
Fiercely contested Australian round of World Rally Championship
New Zealander Hayden Paddon says his fifth place in a fiercely contested Australian round of the World Rally Championship at the weekend continues the progress of his career at the highest level of the sport.
Paddon and co-driver John Kennard won two of the 17 special stages at Coffs Harbour over the weekend in their Hyundai i20 and joined with Citroen driver Kris Meeke (Northern Ireland) as the most consistent challengers to the world champion Volkswagen Motorsport squad.
Volkswagen driver Sebastien Ogier won the Australian rally to claim his third consecutive World Rally Championship crown and Volkswagen wrapped up the Manufacturers’ title.
Sebastien Ogier secured his third consecutive World Rally Championship at the WRC Rally Australia. Picture/Greg Henderson Photography.
``Obviously it’s not the podium we wanted but I think it’s almost as good with the unbelievable competition here and how close it’s been,’’ said Paddon.
``With those other three cars up front (the Volkswagens) this is the best we could have hoped for.
``I think we have made progress since Poland and Finland and it’s good progress from where we were here last year and I’m happy.’’
Paddon went into the 68km of final day stages holding fifth position and held station with a sequence of fourth and fifth fastest times while stretching his advantage over sixth placed Ott Tanak (Ford).
``I’ve just been enjoying the driving today to be honest,’’ he said.
``The car has been nice to drive and I quite enjoy the last Power Stage so we had just a little push through there.
``We came back to the basics of driving today and enjoying it, which gives us a bit more confidence.’’
A talking point of the Australian event has been a massive turnout of New Zealand fans supporting Paddon and Kennard.
``It’s been amazing to see all the Kiwi fans and flags out there and the amount of support,’’ said Paddon.
``I think if they weren’t here there wouldn’t be many spectators at this rally.’’
The result adds 10 points to Paddon’s World Driver’s Championship total for 2015 and he now shares ninth position with Hyundai team-mate Dani Sordo (Spain) who finished eighth in Australia.
Sebastian Ogier and his Volkswagen during the WRC Rally Australia. Picture/ Greg Henderson Photography.
A fraction faster in the Power Stage would have secured a bonus point and edged him ahead of Sordo in the standings.
``The power stages have always been a weak area for me in the past so at least we got close today,’’ said Paddon.
``We clipped a tree stump in there so that probably actually cost us the two-tenths that we needed. Never mind, it was still good fun.’’
Paddon’s next outing will be the tarmac round in Corsica (October 1-4) and before then he has two days of tarmac driving tuition to develop his sealed surface skills and one day of testing in next year’s all-new Hyundai i20 WRC challenger.
Coates Hire WRC Rally Australia - RESULTS (Provisional):
Sebastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia (France) Volkswagen Polo R, 2h 59m 16.4s
Jari-Matti Latvala/Miika Anttila (Finland) Volkswagen Polo R) +12.3secs