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Sobering reflections followed the events on the Friday afternoon in Portugal when Hayden Paddon’s car was completely destroyed by fire, and only smart work by crews and spectators prevented the cars of Ott Tanak and Henning Solberg also being destroyed. 

The scary thing was just how quickly it all happened.
Paddon said: “After a very soft roll down a hill the car rolled back on to its wheels.  John (Kennard) and I took our time turning everything off.  Maybe 10 seconds later I got out of the car.  By that time the whole rear of the tailgate was already in flames.
“John was calmly putting his pacenotes away and organising his bag.  All of a sudden panic set in because big flames were close to the fuel.  You don’t know what’s going to happen.
“There was no time to go back for extinguishers or to press the yellow button.  Luckily we were at a radio point.
“Then Ott Tanak went off and his car was starting to burn as well, there was going to be two cars and surrounding undergrowth on fire. The panic was now to put a rope on this car and tow it away.  So we dragged it down the ditch.
“Ott looked like he knew what he was doing, grabbing the hose off the fireman and taking control of the situation himself.   I later learned his father was a fireman!”
Henning is reported to have saved the car by using his fireproof underwear, stripping off and giving it to somebody else to put out the fire.
“M-Sport chief Malcolm Wilson said: “That boy is resourceful!  He’s fantastic to have in the team.  I can’t thank Ott and Henning enough. They stepped up to levels they shouldn’t really have had to have done to preserve the car.
“I think both of them know how important it is because fire completely destroys cars, you are left with nothing, as we know from Sardinia with Mikko (Hirvonen).
“I was really panicking.  If we had lost Tanak’s or Henning’s car it would have given us a massive problem for the next event.  We literally only have three cars in the latest WRC specification, and with the new cars from 2017 we don’t intend to build any more.
“We are really on a shoestring in terms of the number of vehicles that we’ve got.”   
Henning’s car was the car which Ott Tanak submerged in Mexico last year.
- Martin Holmes

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