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GP Week : Issue 109
Former Pirelli Star and mitsubishi driver Hayden Paddon was in a class of his own in the Production Car WrC. The New Zealander was on his first event in a late model Subaru Impreza and, with his new independent European-based team, was having a ball. Apart from the opening Lisbon stage, which Anders Grondal led, the New Zealander led the category from start to finish. Pushing him was first Patrik Flodin, who lost time when he went off the road and rolled, then for a long time Grondal chased him. Grondal however had firstly a broken cross member which caused mayhem with his front suspension and then a disconnected driveshaft, later having a dramatic crash. After a cautious start in completely new circumstances came the Mexican Benito Guerra, but he was delayed by turbo trouble on the final morning, and then the Finnish driver Jukka Ketomaki, who by the end of the rally ended up second but over seven and half minutes behind. Paddon had a suspension failure en route, but was able to replace the rear arm himself, using one of a vast supply, of spare parts he was now carrying, on a road section. Russian driver Dmitry Tagirov had a lucky escape when he went off the road and a pipe alongside a bridge pierced his windscreen. He was brave enough to continue the next day! Harry Hunt was able to finish and become the first points scorer in the FIA’s new two-wheel-drive Production Car class Production car : Paddon masterclass eStonian driver egon Kaur won the inaugural round of the Fia WrC academy Cup which was part of the WrC event. Kaur was the best of the 10 finishers out of the 18 drivers at the wheel of identical Fiesta R2 cars, all with Pirelli tyres. After a series of setbacks, Kaur took the lead on SS12, the penultimate stage, to become the last of four different leaders over the course of the event. Yeray Lemes won the Thursday afternoon Lisbon Super Special, Craig Breen then went ahead until stage nine while Kaur and Alastair Fisher jockeyed for position behind Breen. Fisher briefly led when Breen misheard a pace note on SS10 and lost six minutes, Fisher then went off on stage 12 leaving Kaur to win. Victor Henriksson used his previous experience in the R2 on the Portuguese stages to bring his Fiesta home safely in second place and promoting Christian Riedemann, (proving consistency pays) to claim the final spot on the WRC Academy podium. He was ahead of Pirelli Star Driver Brendan Reeves in fourth and Fisher who nursed his Fiesta back to fifth. Six different drivers scored fastest stage times during the event, each gaining supplemental championship points. Retirements included Lemes with suspension damage, Jan Cerny with driveshaft trouble which afflicted several others during the event. Jose Suarez rolled, Fredrik Ahlin also went off the road while the lady driver Molly Taylor finished eighth after going off the road. Kaur takes academy rally WRC POrtugal >> 47