Rally Australia: Ogier dominates

Sebastien Ogier completes SS8 on top, 18.4 seconds up on Mikko Hirvonen; Kris Meeke lies third, 7.5 seconds further back; Thierry Neuville and Jari-Matti Latvala round out the top five.
Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier blitzed the opposition on Rally Australia on Friday winning all six 'proper' tests to build a comfortable lead.

Ogier, who was fourth after the opening two Coffs super specials on Thursday evening, began the day by immediately setting the pace, 2.9 seconds up on the Citroen of Mikko Hirvonen.

That gave the Frenchman an early 3.3 second cushion and he went on to increase it to 4.4 seconds in SS4, before taking his third stage win on the trot in SS5. Going into the mid-day halt he had an 8.8 second lead.

On the repeat loop in the afternoon, it was more of the same, with Ogier again winning all three stages and gradually increasing his advantage to 18.4 seconds, ahead of another two runs through the short 1.6 km Coffs super special this evening, which will conclude the day.

“I think we can say today has been perfect – a really good start to the rally,” Ogier said after SS8. “There were more rocks on the road [this afternoon] than this morning. There was some dust [too] so the four minute gap [between the cars] was good – my thanks to the organisers. It's been a tricky one so I'm glad it's done.”

Hirvonen meanwhile is currently 'best of the rest', having been second quickest in four of the day's six 'proper' tests: “It [SS8] was really good – I'm really happy,” said Hirvonen. “It felt clean and we had good drive. I'll just have to wait to see now if our time is good enough to stay in the fight [with Ogier].”

Kris Meeke is next up and the Brit continues to impress, especially given this is only his second outing in the Citroen DS3 WRC. The highlight for him was a second quickest time in SS4 and two third fastest times in SS3 and SS5. He slipped behind Hirvonen on the repeat loop, but still ended up only 7.5 seconds back after Newry 2.

“It was very, very loose in SS8. For sure there was no road advantage this time through – maybe even a disadvantage,” stated Meeke, who was running last in the order – in terms of WRC cars – after setting the top time in qualifying. “I tried to keep rhythm but I had to be careful as in some corners it sucks you down so have to try and be sensible.”

Behind, Thierry Neuville is fourth for the Qatar World Rally Team, and after struggling on the first loop, he was happier in the afternoon and closed to within 7 seconds of Meeke, posting two second quickest times in SS7 and SS8, despite a moment in Newry 2.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC

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