WRC Rally Portugal clerk defends handling of Paddon's crash fire

Rally of Portugal clerk of the course Pedro Almeida has defended the handling of Hayden Paddon's fiery crash on last week's World Rally Championship round

WRC Rally Portugal clerk defends handling of Paddon's crash fire

Almeida admitted he had been prepared to allow the whole World Rally Car field past Paddon's burning Hyundai and only stopped the stage when Ott Tanak's Ford crashed at the same place.

Paddon explains crash that led to WRC Portugal blaze

He felt the i20's positioning meant there was no way it could be saved and was satisfied the crew were unhurt and the stage clear.

"My position is this, you stop the stage under one of two conditions: the road is blocked or you need to send urgent medical assistance to anybody," Almeida told Autosport.

"If the road is clear and no assistance is necessary, from my point of view there is no reason to stop the stage.

"What I'm going to say is not politically correct, but this is rallying. This is not a circuit. You must be prepared, as a driver, for unexpected things.

"The crash was less than 100 metres before a radio point. Immediately we knew about the accident and we knew the drivers were safe, the car was in flames and around there was a lot of fire.

"The situation for the car was critical and there was nothing we could do about it.

"We have two eye in the sky helicopters. Less than one minute after the accident, we had the footage.

"We have a rally route and the access road and the car and fire were in the middle. It was clear we could do nothing about the car, because of the location, humidity and the tracks and the fire was restricted to a certain area.

"The rally route was always clear. All the drivers went through without any major problems. My intention was to send all of the [World Rally] cars through the stage.

"If car 12 did not have this accident I would've continued until the last P1 car went through the stage."

The accidents happened on the event's fifth stage, Ponte de Lima, last Friday afternoon.

Paddon and Tanak were caught out by a drop in the road that had not been there on the first pass in the morning.

Paddon's i20 WRC went off the road, where the hot exhaust set fire to the grass and surrounding trees.

Tanak was furious with the clerk's decision and the lack of warning at the incident site.

"There was no information, no marshals, no flags nothing," said the Estonian.

"We went off the road and landed straight into the middle of the fire.

"It wasn't just Paddon's car that was on fire - it was the whole forest."

Tanak quickly organised a four-wheel-drive vehicle to tow his Fiesta clear of the blaze.

"I tried to get the extinguisher out of the car, but I couldn't get in - the doorhandle had melted," he said.

M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson praised Tanak's efforts.

"Ott went way above and beyond what we expected him to do," he said.

shares
comments
Analysis: Why Kris Meeke's second WRC win is the win that matters
Previous article

Analysis: Why Kris Meeke's second WRC win is the win that matters

Next article

Volkswagen's Ogier could miss WRC Rally Italy for birth of child

Volkswagen's Ogier could miss WRC Rally Italy for birth of child
How Rovanpera tamed a wild Safari Rally Plus

How Rovanpera tamed a wild Safari Rally

The Safari Rally acted as a brutal test of driver and car resolve as multiple retirements opened the path for a historic Toyota 1-2-3-4 triumph, headed by star Kalle Rovanpera. But keeping things clean was only half of the challenge, as a well-timed charge when conditions worsened allowed the Finn to take control

WRC
1 h
How Tanak turned the tables to deliver Hyundai a timely WRC triumph Plus

How Tanak turned the tables to deliver Hyundai a timely WRC triumph

The 2019 champion has been a bit-part player recently, but Ott Tanak ended a 15-month drought in fine style with a dominant win in Sardinia. On a weekend when championship leader Kalle Rovanpera struggled with cleaning the road, his Hyundai rival has made his belated arrival into the title race and given cause for those predicting a walkover from the Toyota star to pause

WRC
Jun 6, 2022
How Rovanpera overcame rallying royalty in Portugal to extend his WRC lead Plus

How Rovanpera overcame rallying royalty in Portugal to extend his WRC lead

Although the Rally Portugal entry list featured World Rally Championship royalty in Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier, victory was secured by rallying's rising star in Kalle Rovanpera. Here's the story of his 2022 hat-trick, as his key rivals faltered among the gravel and asphalt ahead of them

WRC
May 23, 2022
The former WRC star playing the unsung hero role for Rovanpera Plus

The former WRC star playing the unsung hero role for Rovanpera

Kalle Rovanpera’s 2022 World Rally Championship displays have been spectacular, with the Toyota driver benefitting from a secret weapon in his crew to win two of the opening three rallies. But while the former challenger to Sebastien Loeb won’t take credit for his fellow Finn's performances, a key bond has been formed which could prove key to Rovanpera’s title charge

WRC
Apr 29, 2022
How Rovanpera's Croatia turnaround sent a message to his WRC rivals Plus

How Rovanpera's Croatia turnaround sent a message to his WRC rivals

After a dominating Rally Croatia, a wrong tyre choice on the final day looked to have undone all Kalle Rovanpera's hard work and left him with a mountain to climb heading into the power stage. That he emerged the winner all the same has surely quelled any lingering doubts that the Finn is the man to beat in the 2022 WRC

WRC
Apr 25, 2022
How M-Sport's faith in Loubet led to a WRC reprieve after a dismal 2021 Plus

How M-Sport's faith in Loubet led to a WRC reprieve after a dismal 2021

It's fair to say 2021 was a year to forget for Pierre-Louis Loubet. A maiden full World Rally Championship season offered hope but soon turned into a nightmare that ended in hospital, after being hit by a car in a road traffic accident. Now handed a lifeline by M-Sport, the Frenchman is desperate to rebuild his career

WRC
Apr 20, 2022
Why WRC mechanics deserve more respect Plus

Why WRC mechanics deserve more respect

The drivers get the glare of attention, but it’s the mechanics who are key to the operation of any World Rally Championship car. Autosport donned a set of overalls and joined M-Sport on a Belgian national rally event to get an inside look into the trials and tribulations of a rally mechanic

WRC
Apr 17, 2022
The African McRae aiming to become a WRC pioneer Plus

The African McRae aiming to become a WRC pioneer

Taking his first step into the Junior World Rally Championship category, McRae Kimathi - named after 1995 world champion Colin - found himself in the unfamiliar climes of Sweden's snow and ice. Having impressed, Kimathi hopes to blaze a trail to the top level of WRC and help other African drivers to step onto the ladder

WRC
Mar 8, 2022