14 September 2013
Rally Australia: Ogier pushes on, Meeke rolls
Sebastien Ogier completes the final 'proper' test of the day with his lead up to 42.2 seconds; Mikko Hirvonen remains second with Thierry Neuville third; Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen complete the top five; Kris Meeke goes out after rolling his Citroen DS3 WRC in SS13...
Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier furthered cemented his place at the top of the leaderboard this afternoon on Rally Australia.
Ogier has been in dominant form and laid down the gauntlet again on the repeat runs through Nambucca and Valla, winning both tests, to stretch his lead from 27.6 seconds to 42.2 seconds.
He is currently on course to clinch the 2013 WRC Drivers' title, as he needs to score nine points more than Thierry Neuville and one point more than team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala to ensure he is crowned this Sunday.
“I'm very happy and we have extended our lead – so it looks really good,” Ogier said. “It's still a long day tomorrow though.”
Hirvonen meanwhile was second fastest in SS13 in his Citroen DS3 WRC, as he tried to keep up the pressure. However he opted to ease off slightly in SS14, posting only the sixth fastest time and conceded 7.5 seconds to Ogier.
“The tyres are very used so I had to take it a little easier in places [in SS14] so I didn't make any mistakes,” Hirvonen explained. “Their condition, however, isn't so alarming at the moment.”
Behind, Thierry Neuville is now a comfortable third, after Citroen guest driver Kris Meeke rolled his DS3 WRC in SS13. The Brit and co-driver Chris Patterson both escaped unharmed, although the result is a major blow for Citroen in its battle with VW in the Manufacturers' Championship.
Further back, Jari-Matti Latvala is fourth in the second works Polo R WRC, with Andreas Mikkelsen fifth and Mads Ostberg sixth, the latter losing around 20 seconds when he spun in Valla 2.
“We went wide in one corner going on to the tarmac where there was a lot of gravel – and went in to the ditch briefly,” Ostberg stated at the finish of SS14.
Next up is Ostberg's team-mate, Evgeny Novikov and he also had problems on the second runs, losing around 4 minutes with a rear-left puncture in SS13. The Russian remains eighth however, as he had a sufficient buffer over local driver, Nathan Quinn in P9. Khalid Al-Qassimi rounds out the top-ten.
In WRC2, Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari holds the class lead, 1min 29sec up on Yuriy Protasov. Protasov had led, until losing time this morning in SS12. Yazeed Al-Rajhi completes the WRC2 provisional podium.
Saturday's action now concludes with two more runs through the short 1.60 km Coffs super special.
Rally Australia: Overall standings after Stage 14 (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2h 12m 09.2s M
2. Mikko Hirvonen Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +42.2s M
3. Thierry Neuville Qatar WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +1m 10.1s M
4. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +1m 45.0s M
5. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +2m 06.5s M
6. Mads Ostberg Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +2m 07.5s M
7. Evgeny Novikov Qatar M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +6m 28.4s M
8. Nathan Quinn MINI John Cooper Works WRC +9m 03.9s
9. Khalid Al-Qassimi Abu Dhabi Citroen Total WRT DS3 WRC +10m 08.8s M
10. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari Ford Fiesta RRC +11m 37.7s WRC2
11. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta R5 +10m 06.6s WRC2
12. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RRC +19m 49.4s WRC2
WRC2 standings after Stage 14 (Top 3):
1. Abdulaziz Al-Kuwari Ford Fiesta RRC 2hr 23m 46.9s WRC2
2. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta R5 +1m 29.0s WRC2
3. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RRC +8m 11.7s WRC2
SS8. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RRC Hit a bank WRC2*
SS13. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC Rolled M
*denotes able to re-start under Rally 2
all times unofficial
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