Paddon roars into Sardinia lead

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Paris (AFP)

New Zealander Hayden Paddon of Hyundai opened an 8.2-second lead on his nearest challenger Thierry Neuville at the Rally of Italy in Sardinia on Friday after some blistering pace early in the day.

Neuville -- second in the overall standings after wins in France and Argentina -- had led overnight but Paddon sped into a 20-seconds lead in the morning before the Belgian clawed back in the late specials as Paddon struggled with a damaged suspension.

Champion and current leader Sebastien Ogier of France is down in seventh place some 40sec adrift in his Ford Focus.