Hayden Paddon finishes a marvellous second in Rally Australia
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Hayden Paddon has polished off a challenging 2018 World Rally Championship campaign with a second-place finish at Rally Australia — bettered only by eventual winner Ott Tänak. The Finnish driver's teammate Sebastien Ogier meanwhile sealed the 2018 championship title, after finishing fifth.
“This podium feels proper. The last couple we’ve had in the last year or so we picked up from other people’s problems, whereas this weekend felt really good," he said.
“We made good strategy calls throughout the weekend and I felt really good in the car. Every year in this rally we get one more place better, so if we come back next year that means we can only be first I guess.
“Big thanks to the team and of course all the Kiwis that have been here supporting us and back home in New Zealand.”
Paddon sat in the top four for the majority of the rally — earning himself a number of stage victories along the way.
The margins between himself and Tänak generally hovered between 30 seconds and a minute — placing the Ford driver just out of Paddon's reach until the dying stages of the event when Paddon and Toyota' Jari-Matti Latvala ran Tänak down. He then crashed with just one stage to go, opening the door for Latvala to win.
In the end Paddon finished 32.5-seconds behind Latvala, and 19.7-seconds ahead of the third-placed Mads Østberg.
Attention turns now to the category's frequently busy silly season, with Paddon set to be one of the many integral pieces in the moving puzzle. Speaking after the rally, the Kiwi was asked if he wanted to stay with Hyundai Motorsport in 2019.
“I certainly hope so, hopefully this helps," he said.
He is also linked to a seat at Ford squad M-Sport, with a more rounded calendar potentially on the horizon.