'Amateur' Paddon crashes out in Sardinia


Ittiri (Italy) (AFP)

New Zealander Hayden Paddon blew a comfortable lead on the Rally of Italy in Sardinia when he crashed his Hyundai into a bank at high speed, finishing Saturday's 13th special with a wheel hanging off and his undercarriage in flames.

He thereby lost 1min 20sec to drop from first to fourth but worse news was to come when Hyundai made a snap announcement saying: "Damage on the car not possible to repair. Team on the way to recover the car."

No stranger to costly accidents, Paddon was furious with himself, shouting "Amateur mistake" as he stepped from the vehicle.

"An absolutely stupid mistake. I turned in too early and clipped a bank. It's broken a drive shaft I think. I've let everybody down. It's ridiculous," he said.

Estonia's Ott Tanak of Toyota is the new race leader with a 16.5sec lead on Finland's Jari-Matti Latvala, also in a Toyota, while Belgian Thierry Neuville is 1min 03sec adrift in third.

World champion and current overall rankings leader Sebastien Ogier of Ford is in seventh more than three minutes off the pace.

There are two further specials Saturday and a further four on Sunday.