Motorsport: Paddon fifth as Ogier wins in Germany

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Kiwi Hayden Paddon has secured fifth place at Rally Germany, his best result on the event described as the most difficult asphalt rally of the season.

The solid points' haul moves Paddon moves up to third in the WRC Drivers' Championship on 94 points, equal with Hyundai team-mate Thierry Neuville.

The Kiwi made it through an eventful Friday and made important improvements as the rally progressed, finishing Sunday's interrupted itinerary with three top-six stage times.

Paddon said: "It's not been a straightforward rally for us but I am pleased to have ended it on a positive note. We've picked up a decent haul of points for fifth place, which lifts us to equal third in the Championship.

We have used this weekend to learn more about our driving in this rally, which is without doubt the most challenging of the asphalt events. We made some small improvements today, which will help us for the next rally in Corsica. Most importantly, it has been a great weekend for the team with a double podium. It's a great reward for everyone's effort back at Alzenau."

Volkswagen's Sébastien Ogier returned to the top step of the WRC podium as he successfully brought an end to his six-event winless streak.

The Frenchman's 20.3s victory was the third of his WRC career on Germany's challenging asphalt roads and extended his lead at the top of the drivers' championship standings by 14 points, while VW remained in command of the manufacturers' championship, thanks to a 55-point lead.

Having endured a difficult start to the rally on leg one when he overshot a hairpin, Ogier carefully guided his Polo R towards the top of the leaderboard. When the event moved into the infamous Baumholder military proving ground on Saturday, the world champion's experience shone through and he easily swept rally leader - and team-mate - Andreas Mikkelsen aside.

With a 20.3s lead, Ogier was able to control his pace at the front on the final leg and emerged from the ninth round of the championship with a precisely-crafted 20.3s advantage over Hyundai's Dani Sordo.

"This is great," Ogier said at the finish. "I haven't had a chance to win on the recent rallies and I was missing that feeling for sure. It's been really exciting and a long time since I was battling like this for a win. I really had to push to beat the guys around me."

The highlight of the final day was the battle that ensued behind Ogier for second place. Mikkelsen held the position until Sunday's first stage, but he was steadily reeled in by the Hyundai i20 WRC pair of Sordo and Thierry Neuville as their superior speed told.

With only 4.1s separating all three drivers entering the 14.84km Power Stage, success would need to be earned.

Although Neuville topped the Power Stage times with a determined drive and scored an extra three championship points for his efforts, Sordo's fourth fastest time was just enough to guarantee second place overall - by a margin of just 0.1s!

Neuville therefore claimed the final podium spot, while a disappointed Mikkelsen - who narrowly avoided a couple of Power Stage spins as he lost the brakes on his Polo R - had to settle for fourth.

- NZ Herald

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