Kiwi Hayden Paddon has been one of a number of high profile drivers to crash on a chaotic opening day of Rally Finland.

WRC rookie Esapekka Lappi took an overnight lead in his Toyota ahead of teammate Jari-Matti Latvala and Ford rookie Teemu Suninen in the most surprising leaderboard in recent memory.

"I couldn't even imagine leading," said the 26-year-old Toyota Yaris pilot. "It's really something special and difficult to understand. Ever since I was a young boy I've dreamed of driving a World Rally Car in Finland. Now it's happening and I'm leading. I'm speechless."

Four-time world champion Sebastien Ogier suffered the same fate as Paddon, going off the road in the same special stage. Both drivers will re-start tomorrow but will only be able to secure power stage points given how many penalty points they accrued on the long 12-stage leg.


Ford driver Ott Tanak was the other major contender to run into problems - he ran wide and punctured a tyre and dropped over a minute to his rivals.

Ogier's demise allows championship rival Thierry Neuville to make up serious ground on the Ford driver although the Belgian struggled to set fast stage times on the opening day. Neuville became the first driver on the road after Ogier exited and suffered with less traction than following drivers.

The Hyundai driver is eighth and almost a minute behind the leader.

Paddon's mistake was costly. He had been in the top three and was demonstrating good pace before he ran wide and hit a rock.

"There is no margin for error in Finland, and so that has proven today," Paddon said.

"We started well and showed some encouraging pace on the opening stages. Then, in SS4, we ran slightly wide on the same corner several other drivers did. Unfortunately, a rock hit back and we broke our suspension. It wasn't a huge amount of damage but enough to end our day prematurely.

"Still, the speed of the car is good and we were competitive; when you go just a tiny bit too fast here in Finland, there can be a heavy price to pay.

"We'll be back under Rally 2 on Saturday."

Esapekka Lappi (Toyota)
Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota) +4.4s
Teemu Suninen (Ford) +19.0s
Craig Breen (Citroen) +33.0s
Juho Hanninen (Toyota) +39.1
Mads Ostberg (Ford) +45.0s
Elfyn Evans (Ford) +45.1s
Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) +58.0s