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
Load comments
Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best Plus

Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best

The World Rally Championship has brought down the curtain on the aggressive, aero-laden generation of cars first introduced in 2017 that have been likened to the 1980s Group B icons. As the championship prepares to begin a new era of Rally1 hybrid cars, its stars explain just why the outgoing machines were so special

WRC
Dec 24, 2021
Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021 Plus

Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021

On the eve of a new hybrid era for the World Rally Championship, the 2021 season was a blockbuster fought out between Toyota's two top dogs, with a familiar figure eventually emerging on top after a final showdown at Monza. Autosport picks out the 10 best performers from the top class and its supporting cast

WRC
Dec 21, 2021
Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour Plus

Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour

He’s shuffling into semi-rally-retirement, but Toyota star Sebastien Ogier was at the peak of his powers in the final season for the high downforce era-World Rally Championship cars. Despite Toyota's domination, there was still much to enjoy as the old master emerged atop a fierce title fight against team-mate Elfyn Evans

WRC
Dec 19, 2021
How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers Plus

How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers

After winning his eighth WRC title, Sebastien Ogier has drawn the curtain on his full-time rallying career. To understand Ogier's legacy, many of his former rivals, team-mates and colleagues have shared their thoughts on a vastly successful career

WRC
Nov 26, 2021
Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies Plus

Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies

Richard Burns was a determined driver who took on the best rally drivers in the world during a boom period in the early 2000s, and beat them. On the 20th anniversary of his crowning glory in winning the 2001 WRC title, and 16 years on from his death on the same date, Autosport picks out his 10 greatest drives

WRC
Nov 25, 2021
The internal focus that made Burns a legendary world rally champion Plus

The internal focus that made Burns a legendary world rally champion

At the turn of the millennium, WRC was full to the brim with rallying's great and good - and 20 years ago on this day, Richard Burns became England's first world rally champion. Although Burns' natural talent drove him to the top, his steely determination and mental strength was the key attribute behind his title-winning form

WRC
Nov 25, 2021
How Ogier emerged out of Loeb's shadow to form his own WRC legend Plus

How Ogier emerged out of Loeb's shadow to form his own WRC legend

OPINION: Adding an eighth WRC title to his name, Sebastien Ogier has bowed out from full-time rallying in style. Having been compared throughout his career with nine-time champion Sebastien Loeb, Ogier has convincingly demonstrated that he can stand on his own as one of the greatest rally drivers in history

WRC
Nov 22, 2021
How confronting self-doubt drove Ogier to become a WRC legend Plus

How confronting self-doubt drove Ogier to become a WRC legend

This weekend's Rally Monza marks the end of an era in the World Rally Championship, as Sebastien Ogier prepares to bring down the curtain on his full-time career with an eighth title. For all his enduring success, the Toyota driver reveals in an exclusive interview that lingering insecurities have compelled his quest for perfection

WRC
Nov 18, 2021