Heavy rain catches Hayden Paddon out
Hayden Paddon and John Kennard in action (Honza Froněk)
New Zealand driver Hayden Paddon was caught out by tricky conditions in the final round of Rally Spain, with heavy overnight rain making the stages super slippery.
Paddon was among many drivers forced into an early retirement in the final event of the Super 2000 world rally championship, held in Salou in the north of Spain.
A minor error meant he was left stuck in thick mud five kilometres into the third stage of the day.
"The conditions were very tricky and with all of the overnight rain and it just turned the roads into a mud bog," he says.
"We just couldn't get the car out despite still having three wheels on the road."
Fortunately, the Skoda suffered no damage, and Paddon will re-join the rally.
Paddon says he will push hard during the final two days to challenge his SWRC rivals for top stage times.
"It's not a lost opportunity and we will do what we came here to do, and that is set fastest stage times."
He says tyre choice will be critical for the remaining 255.24kms of timed special stages, held west of Salou, and could be a deciding factor for the rally.
Paddon is keen to use the rally as a springboard into a more successful 2013 campaign after heading into the event in fourth place but with no chance of overhauling leader Craig Breen of Ireland or second-placed Swede Per-Gunnar Andersson.
Following victories in Rally Portugal and Rally New Zealand, Paddon's season took a downward turn at the last three rallies.
He failed to finish at Finland in August because of engine difficulties and was leading into the final day of last month's Rally France before crashing into a ditch.