Hayden Paddon has crashed out of Barum Czech Rally Zlín – but remains on course to claim the European Rally Championship this weekend.
Paddon has led this year’s ERC from start to finish after one victory and five further podium finishes, so headed to round seven of eight with a strong chance of sealing the championship one round early.
The New Zealander had been fifth overall in the ERC classification, which was more than enough for him to be crowned at the end of the day.
But it all went awry on Sunday’s third stage, SS10, as Paddon crashed and ripped the rear-right wheel off his Hyundai i20 N Rally2 – forcing him to retire. However Paddon is still on track to secure the ERC title this weekend, as closest rival Mãrtinš Sesks is only 13th overall.
Paddon needs to be 35 points clear at the end of the rally to be champion, and with both he and Sesks having had a retirement this year it means neither have a score to drop. Sesks is currently on course to score three points this weekend, leaving him an unsurmountable 52 points behind Paddon.
Out front, Jan Kopeckŷ is on course to win Barum Rally Zlín for a record-extending 11th time and has now reached the astonishing feat of 100 stage wins on the event.