WRC Rally Australia: Ogier continues to lead

Sebastien Ogier remains in the lead of Rally Australia post-SS17, although Jari-Matti Latvala has managed to close, the gap down from 11.8 seconds to 8.7; Andreas Mikkelsen holds third, with Kris Meeke now back to fourth after that 61 second penalty dropped him to fifth last night..
Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier continues to lead Rally Australia following the first loop this morning.

Ogier began the final day with an 11.8 second lead and while he won SS16 and gained 1.4 seconds, he saw his advantage trimmed in both SS14 and SS17.

Indeed Jari-Matti Latvala took back 2 seconds in the opening test of the day, the 30.20 km Shipmans 1 test, before gaining another 2.5 seconds in Wedding Bells 1, when Ogier was only seventh quickest.

“It was slippery at the beginning [of SS17] and on the slippery part I didn't take any risks. I can't afford to. When you have less than 10 seconds [lead] it's not too comfortable, but it's all in the plan. I tried to control it,” Ogier said.

“If I drive well, it should be enough. There is 45km to go and we know Jari [Latvala] will push hard, so he is still in the hunt.”

“I was pushing too hard [in that test, SS17] and made some mistakes, there were too many slippery places,” Latvala added.

"It won't be easy to win but of course we have to keep the pressure on, otherwise it is not exciting for anybody. I can improve a lot for sure.”

Meanwhile, Andreas Mikkelsen is a lonely third, comfortably ahead of Kris Meeke after the Ulsterman got that 61 second penalty last night. Meeke quickly overhauled Mikko Hirvonen this morning and is now 4.8 seconds ahead in P4.

“For us it has been a good morning and I am really, really enjoying the stages and the driving," said Mikkelsen. "We are third place overall with a good gap to fourth place so I'm really happy with that. The plan this afternoon is to secure the third place.

“It is quite far to second and very far to fourth so we're in a very good position. It would be fantastic to celebrate the manufacturers' title with three cars on the podium – that would be awesome.”

Mads Ostberg rounds out the top six, 6.1 seconds up on Hayden Paddon, followed by Thierry Neuville, Elfyn Evans and Robert Kubica in positions 8 through to 10.

“We've driven neatly all morning with no risks and no mistakes," Kubica stated. "OK, the pace may not have been up there with the leaders, but I'm enjoying these stages more and more and have been happy with my driving which is the most important thing.”

In WRC2, Nasser Al-Attiyah leads comfortably after Yazeed Al-Rajhi, who had to retire following the first stage due to radiator damage.

The event now concludes with a repeat-run through this morning's three stages. SS18, the 24.72 km Shipmans 2 test, is due to start at 12.52 hours local time.

Rally Australia: Overall standings after Stage 17 (Top 10):

1. Sebastien Ogier Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2hours 28m 52.1s M
2. Jari-Matti Latvala Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC +00m 08.7s M
3. Andreas Mikkelsen Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC +00m 48.2s M
4. Kris Meeke Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +01m 32.6s M
5. Mikko Hirvonen M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +01m 37.4s M
6. Mads Ostberg Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS3 WRC +02m 24.8s M
7. Hayden Paddon Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC +02m 30.9s M
8. Thierry Neuville Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +04m 11.7s M
9. Elfyn Evans M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +04m 32.7s M
10. Robert Kubica RK M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC +05m 51.7s M


11. Chris Atkinson Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC +08m 21.8s M
12. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford Fiesta RRC +09m 07.8s WRC2
13. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 +11m 01.0s WRC2
14. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta RRC +12m 35.7s WRC2

WRC2 standings after Stage 17 (Top 3):

1. Nasser Al-Attiyah Ford Fiesta RRC 2hrs 37m 59.9s WRC2
2. Jari Ketomaa Ford Fiesta R5 +01m 53.2s WRC2
3. Yuriy Protasov Ford Fiesta RRC +03m 27.9s WRC2

Notable retirements:

SS16. Yazeed Al-Rajhi Ford Fiesta RRC Mechanical WRC2

M denotes Manufacturer entry

all times unofficial
by Rob Wilkins

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Sebastien Ogier, Julien Ingrassia (Volkswagen Polo WRC #1, Volkswagen Motorsport)

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