Hyundai's Paddon takes Rally Italy lead

Hyundai's Paddon takes Rally Italy lead
By AutoSport

12/06/2015 at 18:53Updated

Hyundai's Hayden Paddon set a blazing Rally Italy pace on Friday morning, winning three of the four stages to open up a 23-second lead.

Paddon - driving the 2015-spec i20 for the first time - made the most of his lowly starting spot to become the first driver from New Zealand to lead a World Rally Championship event outside of his homeland.

Rally Portugal winner, Jari-Matti Latvala had no answer to Paddon's pace, but performed well considering he among the first group of runners sweeping the road.

Latvala's Volkswagen team-mate Sebastien Ogier is third, despite being first on the road in difficult conditions.

The Frenchmen repeatedly said that he could not drive any better than he had been, and he sits 25.1s behind Paddon following a morning of damage limitation.

Dani Sordo would have been third overall, had it not been for a 10-second penalty for jumping the start on the superspecial on Thursday. Instead, he has to settle for fourth going into the afternoon.

Sordo's team-mate Thierry Neuville lies fifth, the Belgian has had a difficult couple of rallies but looks set to bounce back in Sardinia.

Ott Tanak rounded out the top six. He was the fastest car on hard tyres on SS2 and backed that up with some impressive times.

Kris Meeke and Andreas Mikkelsen highlighted the morning's retirees, both with suspension damage.

Meeke went off on SS2, the first stage of the day, while Mikkelsen faltered on SS4. Robert Kubica also dropped out after going off at one of the Grighine Nord's chicanes.

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