Hayden Paddon leads a tight five-way battle for the top spot in the Rally Italia after holding steady to the end of the first full day of action in Sardinia.

The Kiwi enjoyed a fast start to the event to run second behind Kris Meeke initially before being elevated to the front when the Citroen driver rolled and retired for the third event in succession.

Leading at the midday service park, Paddon held firm out front during the afternoon loop but would see his Hyundai team-mate Thierry Neuville elevated to the front of the chasing pack after steadily working his way into contention despite his unfavourable second on the road.

The Belgian is just 8.2secs behind his fellow i20 Coupe driver, with Ott Tanak and Jari-Matti Latvala making it four cars within ten seconds off the lead just 9.5s and 9.8s off the front too. Just 14.7s back himself, Mads Ostberg remains in front running contention in fifth.

Juho Hanninen had held second into the final stage of the afternoon following a strong performance all day but an off has seen him slip 38secs adrift and down to sixth position.

Suffering with running first on the road, Sebastien Ogier struggled to factor throughout the day to run 41.0s off the lead in seventh, while Esapekka Lappi is enjoying a solid run in eighth in only his second WRC event for Toyota.

Flying the flag for Citroen after retirements from Meeken and Craig Breen, series returnee Andreas Mikkelsen runs a relatively lonely ninth, two minutes off the lead.

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