WRC Italy: Hayden Paddon holds off Sebastien Ogier to retain lead

Hayden Paddon defended his Rally Italy lead from World Rally champion Sebastien Ogier on Saturday morning, as problems for Jari-Matti Latvala left them in a two-way fight for victory

WRC Italy: Hayden Paddon holds off Sebastien Ogier to retain lead

Latvala, who had dropped back from Hyundai driver Paddon and his Volkswagen team-mate Ogier with a mistake late on Friday, began to make inroads when he won the first full-length stage of Saturday's route.

Then a rough landing over a jump on the next stage caused tyre damage and delayed Latvala by two and a half minutes, dropping him out of the lead fight.

Ogier had hoped to close in on overnight leader Paddon through the morning now he had some Rally 2 runners ahead of him on the road to clean the loose gravel away for him.

But that situation didn't last long - with Dani Sordo having further mechanical problems, Andreas Mikkelsen breaking his suspension again and Robert Kubica stopping to change a puncture, Ogier was third or second on the road for most of the morning.

He felt that hampered his chances of catching Paddon, although the inexperienced Kiwi was also setting superb times and often able to outpace the VWs.

By the lunchtime service break, Paddon's lead over Ogier was back up to 9.9 seconds.

Latvala immediately returned to stage-winning pace after his problem and is now right behind Mads Ostberg in fifth place.

The dramas ahead promoted Ott Tanak to third, which he currently holds quite comfortably despite a quick spin on SS14.

Thierry Neuville has fallen away in a distant sixth, amid power steering problems that required an impromptu fix that then earned him a penalty for starting SS14 late and a spin off the road on the same stage.

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS15:

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WRC Italy: Paddon still leads for Hyundai at end of Friday

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Rally Italy: Sebastien Ogier leads, Hayden Paddon hits trouble

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