Hayden Paddon is pushing the pacemakers and sits third after the first full day of racing at Rally Argentina.
The Kiwi took advantage of a crash by Finnish rival Jari-Matti Latvala in the last stages of day three on Sunday morning (NZT) to lead by 29.8 seconds over Frenchman Sebastian Ogier.
Latvala admitted to running too conservatively on the long run of SS11, finishing second to Paddon, before responding with victory on the final stage of the morning to take a lead of 13.3s into the afternoon.
From the commencement of Friday’s competitive stages, Paddon and Kennard have been mixing stage times and places with Latvala and Ogier, Volkswagen’s two top drivers.
Latvala is reported to be OK after the crash, but has retired from the rally.
In his first effort, the New Zealander finished second, 1.3sec down on Ogier’s winning 13min 00.1sec. “We’re very surprised to be leading the rally but it’s a nice position to be in”, Paddon said.
“It’s very unfortunate what happened to Jari with his accident, but we were close enough to put on the pressure and pick up the pieces”, he said.
“A long way and some tough stages still to go. We’ll try to keep a good speed and try and make no mistakes tomorrow”.
Hyundai has one WRC win courtesy of Neuville on Rally Germany in 2014, but a triumph in Argentina this weekend would be the first for the current-spec i20 introduced in Monte Carlo this year.
Hayden Paddon jumps in Argentina.
The Norwegian continued to hold off the Hyundai of Dani Sordo, who ended the day in fourth.