Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier has made a superb start to Rally Australia, winning seven of the day's eight stages to seize control 'Down under'.
Ogier, who could clinch the 2013 WRC Drivers' title this weekend, was in a class of his own at the wheel of his Polo R WRC car on Friday and concluded the first 'proper' leg with a 20 second lead over Mikko Hirvonen.
Despite his dominance however, the Frenchman remains cautious, particularly as rain is forecast for Saturday.
“It was a perfect day for us – a really good start to the rally. This morning's Stages were incredibly slippery, so we had to be really careful,” Ogier said. “There was a lot of loose gravel on the tracks, which made it difficult to find a good line. That's why we didn't go all out to attack because we really didn't want to crash out of the rally early on because of some stupid mistake.
“The grip level was much better this afternoon, so Julien [Ingrassia – my co-driver] and I had loads of fun in the Polo R WRC. I'd like to say a special thank-you to the organisers for extending the starting interval to four minutes because the rally cars in front were throwing up an incredible amount of dust.
"All bets are off tomorrow though because the weather experts are forecasting rain tonight.”
Volkswagen Motorsport director, Jost Capito meanwhile was delighted with how Ogier did and he was also relatively happy with how Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen performed in the sister cars.
“It was a good, very successful day for Volkswagen. Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia were on top form today – they couldn't have been better," Capito continued.
"Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila also made the most of their opportunities, although they had to cope with clearing the track as one of the first World Rally Cars today after a disappointing qualifying. With that in mind, fifth place in the overall standings is a really good result.
"Andreas Mikkelsen and Paul Nagle also performed well in the Special Stages today [and finished up in P7. All in all, we're satisfied with the first third of the event Down Under.
“But all of the competitors will face tough challenges in the next two days. We need absolute concentration right to the very end and the whole team will have to work hard without making any mistakes.”