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It’s time for the really dusty rally! Last year, M-Sport won the rally, thanks to a superb drive from Ott Tanak. Thierry Neuville is the championship leader, currently 19 points ahead of the reigning champion Seb. Opening the road on Friday will make the event very tricky for him. Last year we saw Seb open the road and he finished in fifth place and kept the lead in the championship.
This weekend sees the seventh round and halfway point in the 2018 WRC season with Rally Italia Sardegna (June 8-10), run in the north west of the Italian mediterranean island, based at the port of Alghero.
It is the third of four successive gravel surfaced events and the final WRC event before a six week mid-summer break in the series.
The route is largely the same as in recent years but there are four stages in the loops of stages on the Friday, the final stage being new and incorporates stretches of the Shakedown stage, close to the town of Olmedo. This year there will be no ultra-long stages, the longest being the 37km Monti di Ala stage used twice on the Saturday.
The New Zealander had driven wide of a rock on the inside of a right-hand corner bend but ended up in a ditch on the outside, causing significant damage to his Hyundai i20.
The jarring impact also left Paddon with lower back pain and he was airlifted to a hospital in Porto as a precaution before being released the following day.
“First of all, I am feeling fighting fit after the incident in Portugal and I’m ready to get back down to business,” said the 31-year-old.