Pictures courtesy Red Bull Content Pool
For once Volkswagen had to eat
the humble pie as Hayden Paddon driving his Hyundai i20 scored his first WRC
victory at YPF Rally Argentina on the afternoon of April 24, 2016 after
fighting off world champion Sébastien Ogier (Volkswagen) in a nail biting
finish on the last day.
The pair was separated by just
2.6sec ahead of the final legendary El Condor speed test, but Paddon stunned
the Frenchman to hurtle down the rock-strewn mountain almost 12sec faster and
secure a 14.3sec winning margin in his Hyundai i20.
Paddon became the first New
Zealand driver to win a WRC round in the championship’s 43-year history and in
the process played spoil sport to Volkswagen’s ambitions of securing an
unprecedented 13 consecutive victories.
Paddon who celebrated his 29th
birthday a day before the start of the rally, said, “I can’t believe it, I
really didn’t think I stood a chance before the last stage after losing time to
Ogier this morning. ” “I gave that last stage everything I had. Tight and
twisty roads like El Condor aren’t my strength but I drove the stage of my life,”
According to a WRC press
release, Paddon started the final leg with a 29.8sec advantage after taking the
lead the previous day when Jari-Matti Latvala crashed. Gear change glitches
cost valuable seconds in the opening speed test before Ogier threw caution to
the wind in the penultimate stage, eating into Paddon’s lead to set up a
“The last stage was incredibly
rough,” said Volkswagen Polo R driver Ogier, adding that “I had a clean drive
but I didn’t dare take the maximum risk because there were big ruts. Well done
to him, he did a great job on the last stage.” Ogier was almost 12 seconds
slower than Paddon through El Condor
Team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen
completed the podium a further 50.9sec behind after surviving a spin in the
foggy first pass through El Condor on the morning of the final day. However, he
dropped out of the top three in the championship standings as Paddon vaulted
into second. Dani Sordo finished 11.9sec further back in fourth in another i20
with Mads Østberg a distant fifth in a Ford Fiesta RS, despite going off the
road this morning following a pace note mix-up.
The top six in the four-day
rally, which covered 364.68km of rough road competition near Villa Carlos Paz,
was completed by Thierry Neuville, who recovered well after losing several
minutes on Friday with a faulty fuel connection.
Argentina’s Marcos Ligato
delighted home fans by finishing seventh in a DS 3 while Eric Camilli’s patient
approach secured eighth after a trouble free rally for the first time this
season. Henning Solberg and WRC 2 winner Nicolas Fuchs completed the leader board.
The championship returns to
Europe after consecutive rounds in the Americas when Matosinhos hosts Vodafone
Rally de Portugal (May 19 - 22).
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