Hayden Paddon eyes Rally Australia for first WRC win after podium

Hyundai driver Hayden Paddon hopes his stunning Rally Italy podium will launch his first tilt at a World Rally Championship victory on September's Rally Australia

Hayden Paddon eyes Rally Australia for first WRC win after podium

Paddon led in Sardinia from the second stage until a spin on SS17 and gearbox problems on the next test allowed defending world champion Sebastien Ogier past.

Rally Italy full report

He still finished second with co-driver John Kennard, and his performance drew universal praise from drivers and team principals.

The 28-year-old Kiwi is determined to keep his feet on the ground for now, but thinks Australia could be his big opportunity.

"My goal for [the next round in] Poland is to go for a top five and that stays the same," said Paddon.

"But for sure I'm a very competitive person and I think now maybe for Australia we can start tagging the win.

"There are similar sort of road conditions and grip levels to what we have here.

"The feeling in the car is good and I still have a lot to improve."

Paddon's i20 WRC was running with a paddleshift for the first time in Italy and will have engine upgrades in time for Poland at the start of next month, but his car will remain one step behind the sister machines of Hyundai Motorsport drivers Thierry Neuville and Dani Sordo.

While Paddon extended his advantage on Saturday morning, he admitted Ogier was always likely to come by on Sunday.

"I think he had a bit left in the tank," said Paddon.

"I fully understand that we had a good road position and that helped us.

"The good thing for me is that this came pretty naturally.

"John and I do our own thing in the car and we weren't forcing the pace or anything.

"To be honest, second is a great, great result and more than we thought would be possible when we came here."

Ogier was full of praise for Paddon's effort.

"He drove really well," said the champion.

"Maybe it was a small surprise to see him in the lead for so long, but for me not so much - I remember in 2012 when I was driving the [Skoda] Fabia and he was in the same car. I saw some good times from him then."

Hyundai team principal Michel Nandan said Paddon's pace had never been in doubt.

"We saw this pace in Portugal last time," said Nandan.

"What impressed me more this time was the consistency with which Hayden drove at the front - always right on the pace."

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