BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Jari-Matti Latvala
has ended day one of Repco Rally Australia at the top of the leaderboard after an exciting scrap with Sebastien Ogier.
Latvala, who began the day fifth following the two Tweed super specials on Thursday night, took the lead in the second stage this morning, making the most of his more favourable position on the road.
The Finn then traded tenths of a second with Ogier and returned to the mid-day service at Kingscliff just 1.1 seconds ahead.
In the afternoon Latvala seemed to get the upper-hand and he was fastest in SS11, SS12 and SS13 to extend his cushion to 7.4 seconds. However Ogier came back at him on the Tweed super specials and once again won both of them, just like he had on Thursday, to cut the gap back to 2.2 seconds.
"I enjoyed the advantage of a good start position, which meant much of the slippery gravel on the road surface had been swept away, but I'm still quite surprised to be leading," Latvala reflected. "I drove at 95 percent this morning and stepped that up to about 98 percent this afternoon.
"That was fast enough because any quicker and the car would have slid too sideways and cost me time. The grip level has changed constantly because after this morning's rain, some corners remained damp this afternoon.
"I hit a hole in the fourth stage which bent the steering on the left. I tried not to think about it, drove normally and it worked. The team replaced the cross-member at the lunchtime service.
"I didn't want to play tactics and sacrifice time this afternoon for a better road position tomorrow. It didn't make sense to give away time because the stages are so short that it would be hard to regain it again. I think it's possible for a driver to win this rally from starting first on the road but it won't be easy."
Ogier meanwhile also made the most of his road position and he put in a very impressive drive setting ten top-three times in total in his Citroen
Junior Team-run C4 WRC.
"It's been a very good day for us," said the Frenchman. "Everything went well and we are up with the leading pack. I am particularly pleased to have succeeded in finding a quick pace straight away. That's something I've had trouble doing before this event, although I am aware that my start order has played in my favour.
"There is some wind, so hanging dust hasn't been too much of a problem and I have been able to benefit from good conditions."