Kiwi driver Hayden Paddon struggled to overcome tricky conditions at the Rally de Espana and was eventually forced to retire after getting stuck in mud overnight (NZT).

Paddon wasn't the only driver caught out by the heavy overnight rain, with many drivers forced to retire. Paddon got stuck in thick mud 5km into the third stage of the day after a minor error.

"The conditions were very tricky and, with all of the overnight rain, it just turned the roads into a mud bog," Paddon said. "Mini world rally championship driver Dani Sordo also got stuck on the same corner as us, and we just couldn't get the car out despite still having three wheels on the road."

Paddon's Skoda suffered no damage and he and co-driver John Kennard will re-join the rally overnight under the Rally2 rules.


Irishman Craig Breen, who currently leads the Super 2000 World Rally Championship, leads the category heading into day two.

Paddon said he will push hard over the final two days, to challenge his SWRC rivals for top stage times, and wants to impress in the hope of securing a handful of drives in a WRC car next year.

"It's not a lost opportunity and we will do what we came here to do, and that is set fastest stage times," Paddon said.

The Skoda-driving team were duelling with Breen in the first two stages and are set to challenge the Irishman for the remainder of the event.

The weather around Salou in the north of Spain is predicted to improve for the final two days. The stages will also all be on tarmac meaning the conditions are likely to be much more consistent for the drivers. Tyre choice will be critical for the remaining 255.24km.

Mads Ostberg was the surprise leader in the WRC class, and held a 27-second cushion over nine-time world champion Sebastien Loeb in second.