Volkswagen driver Sebastien Ogier has extended his lead on Rally Australia this morning.

Ogier had concluded the first full-day of competition on Friday with a 20-second advantage, having won seven of the day's eight tests, and he remained equally dominant on the first loop on Saturday.

In SS11, the 49.90 km run through Nambucca, he was 5.3 seconds up on his closest rival, to take his eighth stage win of the event. The Frenchman then went quickest again in SS12, and now heads into the mid-day service with his lead up to 27.6 seconds.

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"This morning was quite important and we were in a good position on the road so had to take advantage of that," Ogier said. "We got in to a good rhythm and tried to put a good gap on the competition. The stages were like New Zealand a bit this morning and we are enjoying them."

Hirvonen meanwhile had to settle for second in both SS11 and SS12, reporting that he almost went off near the end of Nambucca 1.

"In the first [test, this morning] Seb was ahead, then we were ahead and then we had a little mistake and nearly went off so I lost a bit of time and was a bit cautious toward the end," Hirvonen stated. "We have made some changes to the pace notes for the long stage - the roads are quite different to how they were yesterday."

Behind, in the battle for third, Qatar World Rally Team man Thierry Neuville has extended his slender 0.5 second gap over Kris Meeke to 8 seconds.

"In places, the stages were a lot more slippery than we had expected, but I really enjoyed this morning's driving," said Neuville, who was fourth fastest in both stages. "Everything is working well and the stages are really beautiful. The long stage [SS11] in particular is really fast and flowing and that is what a driver enjoys the most - the road is really wide and you can attack into the corners.

"We're fighting to keep our third position, all the while keeping a close eye on Jari-Matti [Latvala]. He made a mistake on the last stage [SS12] so the gap is a bit more comfortable now. Everything is going very well for us at the moment."

"We're here to drive a clean rally - and steady," Meeke explained. "The last stage we were a little bit slow but it's nice to know I'm in the game but I'm here to be consistent. It's difficult to manage the pace but I've really enjoyed it this morning. There is a bigger picture and I've been told I have to finish - I'm not here to risk anything. The car is still in the same shape as at the beginning of the rally. We will adjust the setup a little as there is room for more grip."

Further back, Mads Ostberg rounds out the top-five, 3.9 seconds up on Jari-Matti Latvala, who in turn is 11.2 seconds up on Andreas Mikkelsen. Latvala had been fifth, but picked up a puncture at the start of SS12 and lost around 10-15 seconds.

"In the beginning of the stage we went wide, hit a bank and drove the stage with a flat right rear tyre," Latvala explained. "We got the front and rear with the bank - and after the car didn't steer at all..."

Ostberg in contrast had a trouble-free start to the day: "I think we have done a good job this morning. The car is working well and everything is performing as it should. We did a lot of work on the pacenotes yesterday evening. We managed to change a lot from looking at the onboards and it is definitely a lot better today," he stated.

"We'll go a bit stiffer with the set-up for this afternoon to try and gain a bit more grip through the second pass. There is quite a big battle unfolding, but our main objective is to find the perfect set-up with the car. This is our first time here, and results wise - for this weekend and the future - we know that the times will come once we've found the best solution."

Next up is Evgeny Novikov, while Nathan Quinn and Khalid Al-Qassimi hold ninth and tenth, with WRC2 leader, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari in P11.

The action now continues with a repeat-run through this morning's two stages, before two more runs through the Coffs super special this evening. SS13, Nambucca 2, is scheduled to start at 14.41 hours local time [05.14 hours UK time].

Rally Australia: Overall standings after Stage 12 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 1h 35m 53.6s M
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +27.6s M
3. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +59.6s M
4. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +1m 07.6s M
5. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 28.6s M
6. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +1m 32.5s M
7. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +1m 43.7s M
8. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2m 17.3s M
9. Nathan Quinn MINI John Cooper Works WRC +6m 48.9s
10. Khalid Al-Qassimi Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +7m 46.9s M


11. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari Ford Fiesta RRC +8m 44.3s WRC2
12. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta R5 +10m 06.6s WRC2

WRC2 standings after Stage 12 (Top 3):

1. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari Ford Fiesta RRC 1hr 44m 37.9s WRC2
2. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta R5 +1m 22.3s WRC2
3. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RRC +8m 24.3s WRC2

Notable retirements:

SS8. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RRC Hit a bank WRC2*

*denotes able to re-start under Rally 2

all times unofficial