VIDEO | WRC – Paddon wins day 1 at Rally Italy

WRC | 2015 World Rally Championship – Rally of Italy Sardegna | Day 1

Written and Images by – Michael Vettas | Images by – André Lavadinho – @tWorld

With the championship heading towards the mid-point of the season, Sebastien Ogier has a 42 point lead and will be hard to catch if his dominance continues.

Rally Italia is demanding on both man and machine as highlighted by Volkswagen Motorsport’s Jari-Matti Latvala, “It’s extremely hot with 400kms of rough competitive roads that are very technical, you need good rhythm”.

Citroen’s Mads Ostberg also added “You have to try and drink a lot, it is very hot”.

With the heat of the day still lingering, Cagliari started the Thursday night stage with lights blazing. By the end of the night Martin Prokop emerged the fastest to be the surprise winner of the opening stage. Friday signalled the first full day of the rally with teams having to travel 500Kms to race across 133kms of competitive stages.

FIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 -WRC Italia Sardegna (ITA) -  WRC 11/06/2015 to 14/06/2015 - PHOTO :  @WorldFIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 -WRC Italia Sardegna (ITA) -  WRC 11/06/2015 to 14/06/2015 - PHOTO :  @WorldFIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 -WRC Italia Sardegna (ITA) -  WRC 11/06/2015 to 14/06/2015 - PHOTO :  @WorldFIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 -WRC Italia Sardegna (ITA) -  WRC 11/06/2015 to 14/06/2015 - PHOTO :  @WorldFIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 -WRC Italia Sardegna (ITA) -  WRC 11/06/2015 to 14/06/2015 - PHOTO :  @WorldFIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 -WRC Italia Sardegna (ITA) -  WRC 11/06/2015 to 14/06/2015 - PHOTO :  @WorldFIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 -WRC Italia Sardegna (ITA) -  WRC 11/06/2015 to 14/06/2015 - PHOTO :  @WorldFIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 -WRC Italia Sardegna (ITA) -  WRC 11/06/2015 to 14/06/2015 - PHOTO :  @WorldFIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 -WRC Italia Sardegna (ITA) -  WRC 11/06/2015 to 14/06/2015 - PHOTO :  @WorldFIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 -WRC Italia Sardegna (ITA) -  WRC 11/06/2015 to 14/06/2015 - PHOTO :  @WorldFIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 -WRC Italia Sardegna (ITA) -  WRC 11/06/2015 to 14/06/2015 - PHOTO :  @WorldFIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 -WRC Italia Sardegna (ITA) -  WRC 11/06/2015 to 14/06/2015 - PHOTO :  @WorldFIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 -WRC Italia Sardegna (ITA) -  WRC 11/06/2015 to 14/06/2015 - PHOTO :  @WorldFIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 -WRC Italia Sardegna (ITA) -  WRC 11/06/2015 to 14/06/2015 - PHOTO :  @WorldFIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 -WRC Italia Sardegna (ITA) -  WRC 11/06/2015 to 14/06/2015 - PHOTO :  @WorldFIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 -WRC Italia Sardegna (ITA) -  WRC 11/06/2015 to 14/06/2015 - PHOTO :  @WorldFIA WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 -WRC Italia Sardegna (ITA) -  WRC 11/06/2015 to 14/06/2015 - PHOTO :  @World

The first stage saw plenty of action with Citroen’s Kris Meeke being an early casualty on the first stage. Meeke’s DS3 clipped a rock rolling the Citroen and finishing his chances of victory in Italy. The heavily damaged DS3 was limped back to the service park to begin repairs in the hope of returning for day two.

Hayden Paddon competing in the new and improved evolution of the Hyundai i20 emerged as an early leader thanks to more power and a smart tyre choice. The combination gave him a 4 second advantage over rally favourite Ogier with Volkswagen teammate Andreas Mikkelsen a further 4.7 seconds behind.

By the end of stage 3 Paddon had stretched his lead over Ogier to 11 seconds as Robert Kubica struggled with the harsh conditions hitting a concrete barrier which finished his day early. Hyundai’s dominance continued with Thierry Neuville winning stage four and Paddon winning stage 5.

Paddon’s new found form has been a talking point as it comes on his first anniversary in the WRC and Hyundai Motorsport.  “To be leading the rally is amazing and it’s a lot more than we were aiming for this morning” Paddon said.

With only 30 minutes available to teams in the midday service, it was a hive of activity with crews scrambling to fix damaged cars and prepare them for the roughest roads in the championship.

With the teams heading out to the afternoon set of stages, Latvala pushed to bridge the leader board gap winning the next three stages although Paddon kept control of the leader board extending his lead to 8.8 seconds over Ogier with Latvala 17 seconds behind in third.

An elated Paddon said “It was an amazing day, tomorrow we’ll again have the road position advantage so if we can benefit from that, who knows what will happen.”

Day two of the rally will see teams take on the famous Monte Lerno stage and the infamous Mikki jump. Saturday will also mark the longest day in the championship with teams starting the final 42km stage at 1945 hours (7:45PM) then travel 120km back to the service park.

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