Volkswagen's Sebastien Ogier set the pace on Thursday morning in the shakedown for Rally Australia, despite "a little stunt moment on two wheels".
Ogier, who is on the verge of taking his third successive WRC Drivers' crown this weekend, made the mistake at the first corner on his very first pass (see pictures below). He was able to continue, however, and on his fourth and final-run through the 4.98 km Hydes Creek test went quickest, completing it in 2 minutes 49.4 seconds, leaving him 1.1s up on team-mate, Andreas Mikkelsen.
“It was a little stunt moment on two wheels!” Ogier joked, when asked about the incident by the official WRC site. “It was a long hairpin right and I was actually too slow going into the bend because I braked too early. I was too far on the inside and the bank lifted the car onto two wheels.
“Luckily I had the reflexes to open the steering in the other direction and put the car back on four wheels and spin it through 360 degrees.
“It wouldn't have had big consequences if we had rolled because it was a slow corner, but I'm always happier when I bring the car back in perfect shape.”
Meanwhile, Jari-Matti Latvala was third to give Volkswagen a 1-2-3, with Citroen's Kris Meeke fourth, 0.5s further back in his DS 3 WRC.
“We used today's shakedown to do a bit of testing for the special conditions we will face here in Australia, as we did not have the opportunity to do this before the rally," said Latvala. "This meant we were able to try out a few things with the set-up over the course of the five runs.
"I was happy with the time I set in the end. There is quite a thick layer of dust on the road, which certainly does not make life any easier – particularly for the first cars out on the route. All in all, I am happy with the morning's work. It is always nice to be in Australia, and I am looking forward to finally getting going after this afternoon's ceremonial start, and to the first special stages tomorrow.”
Thierry Neuville rounded out the top-five for Hyundai, followed by team-mate Dani Sordo and M-Sport's Ott Tanak, who tied for sixth.
Hayden Paddon, Elfyn Evans and Stephane Lefebvre, subbing for the injured Mads Ostberg, filled positions 8 through to 10.
Rally Australia now begins later today with the ceremonial start in Coffs Harbour at 16.00 hours local time [07.00 hours UK time]. The first competitive stage is on Friday.
SS1, the 7.88 Utungun 1 test, is due to start tomorrow at 08.18 hours local time [23.18 hours UK time]. Friday's schedule includes eight stages and a competitive distance of just over 125 kilometres. Full itinerary for round ten in WRC 2015 available - HERE
2015 Rally Australia: Shakedown times (Top 10):
1. Sebastien Ogier
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2m 49.4s
2. Andreas Mikkelsen
Volkswagen Motorsport II Polo R WRC 2m 50.5s
3. Jari-Matti Latvala
Volkswagen Motorsport Polo R WRC 2m 51.0s
4. Kris Meeke
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC 2m 51.5s
5. Thierry Neuville
Hyundai Motorsport i20 WRC 2m 51.6s
6. Dani Sordo
Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC 2m 51.9s
= Ott Tanak
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2m 51.9s
8. Hayden Paddon
Hyundai Motorsport N i20 WRC 2m 52.0s
9. Elfyn Evans
M-Sport WRT Ford Fiesta RS WRC 2m 52.1s
10. Stephane Lefebvre
Citroen Total Abu Dhabi WRT DS 3 WRC 2m 53.4s
M denotes Manufacturer entry
all times unofficial