An electrical failure in his Hyundai i20 has cruelly cost Kiwi Hayden Paddon any chance of winning Rally Portugal.
The 30-year-old led the event briefly on Friday, winning the opening test before the electrical problems cost him time in the second stage of the day. The time lost wasn't catastrophic but a second failure on the afternoon loop saw him stop for 11 minutes and end his chances.
He responded with back-to-back to three stage times on the final stages but all he can do now is try and showcase his speed.
"Certainly, a case of what could have been again," said Paddon. "Today's certainly been a very positive day for the future anyway, with the changes we made before the rally, everything was working a lot better in the car and the setup. The confidence was good so we were able to set some fastest stage times. Okay, we had a small electrical problem on the morning loop which cost us seven seconds but other than that, it was all going to plan.
"And then this afternoon we made some setup changes which worked really well for the repeat runs. It was going really well, we had a good tyre strategy, everything was working really well in the car and we'd just taken the lead only for the car to stop with an electronic problem halfway through the last stage. That puts paid to any result for this rally. It's frustrating, it's yet again a story of bad luck. We're not quite sure what's caused the problem. The team will get it rectified and we'll come back and get some experience for the last two days. We'll keep working and keep moving forward because I'm sure this run of bad luck will turn around soon."
It has been a particularly trying time for the Kiwi this season and this result will hurt with such a promising result in the offing.
M-Sport Ford driver Ott Tanak leads the event by 4.6s from Paddon's Hyundai teammate Dani Sordo while four-time world champion Sebastien Ogier looms 0.4s further back and won't have to sweep the roads clean across the weekend.
Toyota's Jari-Matti Latvala led for a period before he rolled his Yaris while Kris Meeke also found himself in front for a period until he broke the suspension on his Citroen.
1. Ott Tanak (M-Sport Ford)
2. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) +4.6s
3. Sebastien Ogier (M-Sport Ford) +5.0
4. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) +11.1s
5. Craig Breen (Citroen) +12.9s
6. Elfyn Evans (DMACK Ford) +18.3s
24. Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) +10:56.0s