PHOTO: Co-driver John Kennard surveys the burnt remains of his Hyundai i20 WRC (Rally de Portugal pic).
FIRE destroyed Hayden Paddon’s Hyundai i20 after a heavy crash in the first afternoon stage on Vodafone Rally de Portugal n Friday.
The New Zealander and his co-driver and countryman John Kennard were unhurt, but saved only their helmets from the blaze.
The Hyundai rolled off the road 11.90km into the second pass of Ponte de Lima. Heat from the car’s exhaust set the trees alight and burned out the car within five minutes.
Paddon, the Rally Argentina winner four weeks ago, said: “I don’t know where to begin. That was definitely not part of our plan for this rally and I am very disappointed to have to retire in this way.
“We started the morning quite well despite some small technical niggles. We didn’t lose too much time and were definitely keeping in touch. We were hoping to close the gap in the afternoon loop but it wasn’t to be.
“Unfortunately, we were caught out by a big hole in the road on SS5 that sent the car into a roll off the road. The heat from the exhaust then set the surrounding bushes on fire, and totally destroyed the car.
“The consequences for a small mistake are very cruel. I’m sorry for the team and vow to come back stronger in Sardinia, a rally where we scored a podium last year.”
Minutes after Paddon’s crash, Ott Tänak rolled his Ford Fiesta RS at the same place. It also caught fire, but the uninjured crew was helped by locals to extinguish the flames with a hose and it was reported the Estonian’s car was not badly damaged.
Organisers cancelled the stage and the following competitors drove it non-competitively before continuing to the Caminha test.