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

Hayden Paddon remains in the lead of Rally Italy heading into Saturday's stages, but Sebastien Ogier slashed the Kiwi's margin to 8.8 seconds on the final stage of the day

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

The afternoon's stages were much cleaner than the morning loop and the effect of sweeping the roads was reduced for the frontrunners, as Paddon matched the Volkswagens for pace in an outstanding display from the 28-year-old, driving the 2015-spec Hyundai for the first time.

Jari-Matti Latvala had been Paddon's closest contender, but the Finn ran wide on SS9 and hit a bank, ripping the tyre from its rim and costing him second place.

Ogier jumped into third after a day of damage limitation following Latvala's trouble, and then went second fastest behind the Finn on the final stage, as Paddon backed off thanks to a couple of hairy moments on the test.

Latvala came back at Ogier by winning the final stage of the day, but only by 1.2s, leaving the gap between the two at 17s overall and Latvala firmly in third.

Ott Tanak gave the new-spec Ford Fiesta its second stage win of the weekend on SS7, and moved up into fourth on the final stage of the day. He made the most of trouble for Dani Sordo, who he was catching before the Spaniard hit difficulty.

Sordo had held station in fourth after a decent afternoon, but an accident on the last stage of the day ripped a wheel off his Hyundai. He lost well over a minute, and will struggle to get back to the services after that major issue. If he does, he'll begin Saturday in seventh.

The chain reaction of Sordo's incident helped to promote Mads Ostberg to fifth. The Norwegian had a terrible day, at one point bamboozled by his lack of pace, but moved past Sordo and Thierry Neuville on the final stage after he found the 3s needed to jump the Belgian.

Neuville continued his return to form, despite suffering an issue on SS9. He had a handbrake problem and lost a turbo pipe, but a makeshift repair for SS10 allowed him to complete the stage, the Belgian showing a fantastic piece of ingenuity to end the day sixth.

Behind seventh-placed Sordo is SS1 winner Martin Prokop, while Lorenzo Bertelli is just one tenth of a second ahead of compatriot and WRC2 leader Paolo Andreucci.

A guest entry for his home round, Andreucci has a 1m26.3s lead in the category over Armin Kremer after rivals Esapekka Lappi and Nasser Al-Attiyah both lost half hours with crashes.

Britain's Kris Meeke crashed out on the first stage of the rally, meaning he'll join Andreas Mikkelsen and Robert Kubica in sweeping the roads for Ogier tomorrow morning.

Meeke had an off that ripped off his rear wheel and damaged the suspension, while Mikkelsen's car suffered damage to the suspension and fuel tank.

Kubica went off on one of the Grighine Nord's chicanes which also ruled him out.

LEADING POSITIONS AFTER SS10:

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WRC Italy: Paddon leads for Hyundai, Ogier third despite sweeping
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WRC Italy: Hayden Paddon holds off Sebastien Ogier to retain lead

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