Thierry Neuville holds a useful 20-second lead over Jari-Matti Latvala after seeing Hyundai team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen tumble out of the lead at Rally Australia with a double puncture.

The Hyundai driver claimed the lead at the end of SS10 after Mikkelsen limped to the finish with punctures to his front and rear tyres plus heavy damage to his i20 after running wide early in the stage. Despite recovering to make the end of day two’s action, the Norwegian driver is now down in 21st and over 36 minutes off the front-runners.

Neuville clinched four stage wins in total on the second day of running to pull out a 20.1s lead on nearest rival Latvala to become the strong favourite for victory in Australia with five stages remaining.

Latvala has a similarly comfortable 20.5s advantage over M-Sport Ford’s Ott Tanak in third place who in turn is ahead of Citroen’s Craig Breen by almost half a minute.

SS14 Newry17 II was cancelled due to conditions to shorten the day’s running but it didn’t stop Hayden Paddon enjoying an encouraging day for Hyundai to move up to fifth place with newly-crowned five-time WRC champion Sebastien Ogier in sixth place.

Stephane Lefebvre claimed seventh place for Citroen as Elfyn Evans, Esapekka Lappi and Nathan Quinn completed the top ten contenders. Kris Meeke endured a tough final stage to the day to slip down to 13th place after picking up a puncture.



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