Hyundai WRC debutant Hayden Paddon had to retire from Rally Italia Sardegna in the final stage on Saturday.

Paddon had been running in eighth in his i20 WRC, but unfortunately, just 10 kilometres into the long test stage, he reported a misfiring engine after going through the water splash.

After speaking to the team, he tried to continue but was then told him to stop mid-stage to avoid damaging the unit further.

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Hyundai has now said it is 'confident' he will be able to rejoin on Sunday under Rally 2, albeit now outside the points.

"This rally was always about learning and it has been a valuable day for us in that regard," said Paddon. "We had an okay morning but it was a bit slippery as a result of our starting position. We just concentrated on making improvements to the car and improving my own driving on these tough stages today. Compared to yesterday, we made some changes to improve turn-in but our pace notes didn't really give us the confidence we needed.

"We made a few changes at lunchtime service and it was a definite improvement but unfortunately we couldn't complete the final stage due to an engine misfire after the water splash which the team has to examine.

"Hopefully, we can get back out there tomorrow and conclude our learning from this event."

Team-mate and early rally leader Thierry Neuville meanwhile concluded the day in 17th, running well down the order after losing over 20 minutes with a suspension issue in SS5 on Friday.

"Being second on the road today meant that the stages had very little grip and were really tricky to drive," said the Belgian. "However, I felt that we had a good morning loop and I drove well. We used today to make some setting changes to the car and to continue our learning with the Hyundai i20 WRC.

"The team did a great job during lunchtime service and I felt more comfortable in the car during the afternoon loop, which showed from the stage times.

"I was able to push a lot more and it shows that we are definitely making progress with the car. I hope we can continue in this way tomorrow."