Thierry Neuville has started from the front by topping the shakedown for the 2017 season closer Rally Australia ahead of Stephane Lefebvre.

The Hyundai Motorsport driver, who lost out on his chance of the World Rally Championship title last time out at Wales Rally GB to Sebastien Ogier, is battling against Ott Tanak for the runner-up spot in the drivers’ standings and impressed in the shakedown by setting the leading time ahead of Citroen’s Lefebvre by half a second.

Wales Rally GB winner Elfyn Evans will enjoy his final outing for the DMACK Ford entry before the tyre manufacturer turns down its efforts in the championship and started Rally Australia third fastest on the shakedown stage as Jari-Matti Latvala made it four different manufacturers inside the top four for Toyota.

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Kris Meeke claimed fifth place ahead of Tanak with Craig Breen bouncing back from a tough Wales Rally GB for Citroen in seventh. Esapekka Lappi has taken eighth place in the shakedown for Toyota as Hyundai duo Andreas Mikkelsen and Hayden Paddon rounded out the top ten ahead of newly-crowned five-time WRC champion Sebastien Ogier who was last of the regular runners – albeit just 2.4s off pace-setter Neuville.