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Kiwi Hayden Paddon's WRC return over before it began following high-speed crash in practice

Kiwi rally driver Hayden Paddon has had his latest shot at returning to the WRC ruined before it even really began after a high-speed crash during practice.

Paddon was thrown a lifeline by M-Sport Ford for Rally Finland after failing to secure a full-time contract in the WRC this year, but the 32-year-old's return flatlined after he crashed. He was in sixth gear when the crash happened.

M-Sport Ford team principal Rich Millener said soon after Paddon's car was too badly damaged to line-up for Thursday's start and there wasn't enough time to bring in a replacement car for the even.

Millener was also quick to absolve Paddon of any blame, saying a rock pulled onto the road was the cause of the incident.

"A rock has been pulled out on one run, he turned the car around, went back up the same stretch of road only to find that rock in the middle of a blind, sixth-gear right hander.

"The rock hit the bottom of the sump guard and lifted the car into the air. They were just passengers, nothing they could do about it.

"You can't go into every corner lifting off in case you've pulled a rock out. It's the nature of testing, you're always going to be the first person to find anything you've pulled out on the previous run."

Millener said the team looked at every option to get the Kiwi racing this weekend.

"A rock has been pulled out on one run, he turned the car around, went back up the same stretch of road only to find that rock in the middle of a blind, sixth-gear right hander.

"The rock hit the bottom of the sump guard and lifted the car into the air. They were just passengers, nothing they could do about it.

"You can't go into every corner lifting off in case you've pulled a rock out. It's the nature of testing, you're always going to be the first person to find anything you've pulled out on the previous run."

Paddon told 1 NEWS last before he travelled to Finland he was ready for the fight of his life to keep his place in the WRC.

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Dumped by Hyundai, Paddon will drive for Ford in Finland to prove he belongs in WRC. Source: 1 NEWS

"WRC's still where the heart is. I still feel like I've got unfinished business there, I feel like I'm in a good place as well," he said.

"I want that opportunity to go back there and prove that that's where we belong.

"This is going to be an all or nothing attempt to get back there. If we don't do this, we'll never be back in WRC. It's literally this, or sit at home watching it."

Hayden Paddon's badly damaged Rally Finland car. Source: WRC