PHOTO: Hayden Paddon was in top form to beat Jari-Matti Latvala by 1.3 sec. on Shakedown in Argentina (Hyundai Motorsport pic)
DANI Sordo and Sébastien Ogier opened their YPF Rally Argentina accounts with equal-fastest times in the opening Super Special stage over just 1.5 kms last night, but it was Kiwi Hayden Paddon who put the WRC field on notice by dominating Shakedown earlier in the day.
The spectacular new night-time street stage in central Cordoba kicked off the 2016 WRC fourth round. It featured several donuts at roundabouts and a jump to entertain the large crowds.
Drivers recce’d the test in golf buggies and Spaniard Sordo was on course for the win in his Hyundai i20. But Ogier, the last of the big-name drivers to start, matched the time in his Volkswagen Polo R, despite a mistake. Ott Tänak in his privateer DMACK Fiesta was just a tenth of a second further back in third.
Behind the Estonian, Hyundai duo Thierry Neuville and Hayden Paddon completed the top five.
Earlier, Paddon set the benchmark on his third run through the 6.01km gravel Shakedown stage from Vila Carlos Paz to Cabalango, stopping the clock 1.3sec clear of Jari-Matti Latvala’s Volkswagen Polo R. Ogier was third, a further 0.7sec back.
“Shakedown wasn’t that representative of a lot of the rally. It’s quite a slow stage and much of the rally is very fast,” Paddon said.
“The surface was similar but it’s difficult to gauge what the car is like in the fast sections until we get in there tomorrow.
“It’s very, very fast and you need to be really committed to the pace notes and carry a lot of speed in the fifth- and sixth-gear corners. The surface seems reasonably hard-packed at the moment, but I think we’ll find in the second pass it’s going to chew up after all the rain they’ve had here and it will become like train tracks with the ruts.”
Friday will be the first full day of the rally, with drivers facing eight more tests covering 150.08km. Total competitive distance is 365 km over 18 stages concluding on Sunday afternoon with the famous El Condor test.