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HAYDEN Paddon produced the drive of his short WRC career to finish second at Rally Italia Sardegna. Co-driven by John Kennard, the ypung Kiwi led the rally until Saturday afternoon and went blow-for-blow with eventual winner Sebastien Ogier. Here’s what Hayden said after the rally, plus some comments from Hyundai team principal Michel Nandan.

“To finish on the podium is an absolutely amazing feeling. Words can’t really do justice to how I’m feeling right now. We had a strong weekend from the start but we just tried to take each stage as it came without looking too much at the timesheets. We knew it would get tougher once we lost the start position advantage so the fact we could hold our own against the World Champion was just fantastic. We had our issues on Saturday afternoon and thought that was the rally over, but thankfully we pushed on through, kept digging deep and made it through the Sunday in a comfortable second. Considering our buffer to Thierry in third, we took today very easily, not taking any risks and we have a debut podium as a reward. It’s been great to have such support from back home and I’m sorry they’ve had some late nights. I hope it’s been as worthwhile for them as it has been for us. We couldn’t have done this without the team, so my thanks to everyone at Hyundai Motorsport, too. Let’s hope this is the start of more results to come.”

Michael Nandan said: “Hayden has performed exceptionally this weekend and he has shown why he is a real star of the future in World Rally. He acquitted himself professionally and calmly – even in the face of issues – and he thoroughly deserves second place. It is particularly fitting on his one-year anniversary as a Hyundai Motorsport WRC driver.”

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.