12 September 2014
WRC Rally Australia: Meeke stays top
Kris Meeke completes SS6 still in the lead – 2.1 seconds up on Jari-Matti Latvala; Sebastien Ogier is third, 0.5 seconds further back with Andreas Mikkelsen and Mikko Hirvonen dropping to fourth and fifth...
Kris Meeke continues to lead Rally Australia following the repeat loop, now 2.1 seconds up on Jari-Matti Latvala.
Meeke began the afternoon with a 2.4 second cushion and while he was only sixth in SS4, the repeat run through Hydes Creek 2, a fourth quickest time in SS5 and a third in SS6 proved enough to keep him on top and ahead of the hard charging Volkswagen's of Jari-Matti Latvala and Sebastien Ogier.
“I said to Paul [Nagle – my co-driver], that's the speed we have to drive at to compete with the Volkswagens. What a buzz! What a nice stage,” Meeke told the official WRC site after completing the final proper test of the day just 1.5 seconds off Latvala.
Latvala was quickest in SS5 and SS6 – and second in SS4 – to haul himself up from fifth and ahead of team-mate Sebastien Ogier.
“A really good stage for us, really enjoyed it,” Latvala remarked after Newry 2. “In a couple of places it was really slippery where the surface was compacted and the tyre didn't work so well, but overall very happy with the day so far.”
Ogier meanwhile is now third, and with the stages having been swept clean this morning, was right on the pace, quickest again in Hydes Creek, before going second in SS5 and SS6. He concludes the loop 0.5 seconds off Latvala.
“I am really happy. We are not so far from the lead tonight so we can be proud of what we have done today,” noted the Frenchman. “The second loop was better than the first but I'm overall I'm happy.”
Behind, Volkswagen Motorsport II pilot Andreas Mikkelsen and M-Sport's Mikko Hirvonen have both slipped back and are now fourth and fifth, around 2.5 seconds off Ogier and split by just 0.4 seconds.
Hayden Paddon completes the top six and is the lead Hyundai after Thierry Neuville hit a stone near the start of SS5 and broke the rear suspension. He lost almost 2 minutes as a result and tumbled down from P6 to P13. He recovered to tenth after SS6.
Mads Ostberg is Paddon's nearest challenger, 3.2 seconds back, but he again struggled this afternoon, especially relative to the times posted by team-mate Meeke in the sister Citroen DS3 WRC.
Former F1 driver Robert Kubica holds eighth, with fellow M-Sport man Elfyn Evans now up to ninth, complaining that “it is just not happening”.
After Neuville in tenth, Chris Atkinson is one spot back on his first WRC outing since Mexico. He reported a “strange feeling in the rear” after SS6.
In WRC2, Yazeed Al-Rajhi continues to lead (and is 12th overall), now 9.4 seconds up on Nasser Al-Attiyah. Al-Attiyah has closed to less than a second after SS4 and SS5, but lost time in SS6 with a possible suspension issue. Jari Ketomaa remains third.
The opening leg now concludes with two runs through the 1.56 km Hyundai Super Special Stage.
Rally Australia: Overall standings after Stage 6 (Top 10):
1. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC 54m 50.4s M
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 02.1s M
3. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 02.6s M
4. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +00m 05.2s M
5. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 05.6s M
6. Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +00m 43.4s M
7. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +00m 46.6s M
8. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +00m 53.4s M
9. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 23.7s M
10. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +02m 05.2s M
11. Chris Aktinson Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +02m 43.9s M
12. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RRC +02m 49.3s WRC2
13. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford Fiesta RRC +02m 58.7s WRC2
14. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 +03m 15.4s WRC2
WRC2 standings after Stage 6 (Top 3):
1. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RRC 57m 39.7s WRC2
2. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford Fiesta RRC +00m 09.4s WRC2
3. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 +00m 26.1s WRC2
M denotes Manufacturer entry
all times unofficial
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