Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier has extended his lead on Rally Australia further following the two runs through the short Coffs super special this evening.
Ogier dominated Friday's stages, winning all six 'proper' tests
to build an 18.4 second advantage.
He then set the pace again in SS9 – the day's first blast through Coffs, before going second on the repeat. He will now go into the overnight halt with a 20-second advantage.
“It was a great day and we are very pleased with the result,” Ogier stated. “But there are two long days to go so nothing is done.”
Mikko Hirvonen meanwhile remains second for Citroen, while Thierry Neuville snatched third from Kris Meeke in SS10, when the Brit stalled his DS3 WRC car. Neuville now lies 0.5 seconds ahead.
“We had no traction at all in the first run,” recounted the Qatar World Rally Team pilot, “and the second there was too much dust so I didn't push the car and risk losing everything.”
“A good day and we're quite happy,” insisted Meeke, despite losing P3 late on. “I found it a little more difficult in the second pass this afternoon and need more experience with the car. This stage [Coffs] is very tricky though.”
Behind there were no other changes to the top ten, with Jari-Matti Latvala, Mads Ostberg, Andreas Mikkelsen, Evgeny Novikov, Nathan Quinn and Khalid Al-Qassimi finishing up in positions 5 through to 10.
“We had a very slow start in the morning but we started to improve later,” Latvala stated. “Still, we can do a better job. We are working for the team and that's the main thing. The long stage tomorrow will be crucial.”
“The pace notes were good today and I have the same feeling they will be good for tomorrow,” Ostberg added. “We will run through the video of today now and use that to learn for tomorrow. I think I've done well today and driven to the limit. If we do a good stage we are normally higher up though, so for me it is a bit of a mystery why we aren't further up overall and winning stages.”
In WRC2, Yuriy Protasov heads the pack in his Ford Fiesta R5, 33.5 seconds up on Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari.
Rally Australia now resumes on Saturday, with six stages on the bill, including the longest test of the event, the 49.90 km Nambucca stage, which will be run twice, as SS11 and SS13.
Rally Australia: Overall standings after Stage 10 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 58m 46.6s
2. Mikko Hirvonen
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +20.0s
3. Thierry Neuville
Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +38.1s
4. Kris Meeke
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +38.6s
5. Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +58.2s
6. Mads Ostberg
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 01.7s
7. Andreas Mikkelsen
Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +1m 03.8s
8. Evgeny Novikov
Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 09.2s
9. Nathan Quinn
MINI John Cooper Works WRC +4m 02.6s
10. Khalid Al-Qassimi
Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +4m 41.4s
11. Yuriy Protasov
Ford Fiesta R5 +5m 04.7s
12. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari
Ford Fiesta RRC +5m 38.2s
WRC2 standings after Stage 10 (Top 3):
1. Yuriy Protasov
Ford Fiesta R5 1hr 03m 51.3s
2. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari
Ford Fiesta RRC +33.5s
3. Alejandro Lombardo
Mitsubishi Lancer Evo X +8m 36.3s
SS8. Yazeed Al-Rajhi
Ford Fiesta RRC Hit a bank
all times unofficial