Kris Meeke's World odyssey suffers crash setback
Kris Meeke's hopes of another strong result were shortlived when he crashed his Citroen DS3 on the first gravel stage of Rally Italia in Sardinia.
Coming off his victory in Argentina and fourth in Portugal, which saw the Dungannon driver climb to fourth in the World championship, Meeke had been content with a cautious approach to the opening spectator stage around the harbour in Cagliari on Thursday night, setting the 10th fastest time.
But yesterday on the first stage of the day he approached a long right-hand bend too fast, the Citroen drifting wide and clipping rocks on the outside.
They flipped the car onto its roof and tore out the rear suspension.
The car was later retrieved by the Citroen team and repaired with Meeke planning to restart today under Rally2 rules. But with some 45 minutes of penalties he has little prospect of regaining a points position.
But the rough Sardinian stages produced plenty of surprises, not least the emergence of Hyundai's No.2 driver Hayden Paddon as the leader.
The young New Zealander led from stage two and last night was still 20 seconds ahead of the Volkswagen of World champion Sebastien Ogier.
Jari Matti Latvala was third, 16 seconds behind his VW team-mate.
Dani Sordo (Hyundai), Ott Tanak (Ford) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) completed the top six with Meeke's team-mate Mads Ostberg seventh.
In a record-breaking day, Paddon also became the first Kiwi to lead a WRC round outside New Zealand.
His best ever finish in a WRC event is fifth, which he claimed in Sweden earlier this year.
Paddon said: "It's a lot more than we were aiming for."