Kiwi Hayden Paddon recorded the seventh-quickest time on WRC Poland's opening super special stage overnight.

The 2.50km arena stage is right next to the rally service park in the host city of Mikolajki. Of the purpose-built super special stage where two cars at a time tackle the short test, Paddon said: "A nice clean start, with no problems. We are slowly getting closer on these 'Micky mouse' stages but still work to do. Looking forward to the rally starting again in the morning."

Earlier on Thursday morning, Paddon and co-driver John Kennard joined fellow WRC competitors for their full speed runs on the 3.38km shakedown stage, close to the rally base in Mikolajki. The Kiwis were comfortable with their preparation which saw them net a fourth-quickest run. Paddon said: "The feeling [in the car] was immediately there which is good for the rally."

The competitors' start for the shakedown runs was delayed after fans refused to comply with organisers' requests to move from dangerous viewing positions. It was briefly halted after a handful of cars for similar reasons before continuing to its conclusion with no further hold-ups.


The super special was run in dry and warm conditions, temperature 27?C with rising humidity and heavy rain is forecast for Friday's first full day of competition which sees crews tackle two identical loops of four stages north-east of Mikolajki before a second pass around the arena test.