Mads Ostberg heads up a Citroen 1-2 after the opening day of action at Rally Australia with Sebastien Ogier in seventh place which provisionally would hand him the World Rally Championship title.

On tense early stages, Ostberg overhauled the opening stage pace-setting Toyota duo of Esapekka Lappi and Jari-Matti Latavala to claim the lead with victory on SS3.

It would be a lead the Norwegian wouldn’t relinquish across the remainder of the first day as the order changed behind him.

Ostberg, returning to WRC after seeing Sebastien Loeb win for Citroen in his C3 machine, ended day one with a 6.8s advantage over teammate Craig Breen with Latvala shuffled into third place for Toyota less than two seconds off the Irish driver.

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Hayden Paddon heads up the Hyundai challenge in fourth place ahead of title outsider Ott Tanak, who remains in the championship picture but needs to score strongly and hope both Ogier and Thierry Neuville miss out.

With Lappi in sixth place, Ogier remains well placed in seventh for M-Sport Ford coupled with a difficult opening day for Neuville.

The Hyundai driver stalled midway through SS6 at a chicane before picking up a left rear puncture later on the stage which lost him almost a full minute on the leaders.

Neuville ended the day in 10th place, behind M-Sport Ford Elfyn Evans in eighth and Teemu Suninen in ninth, with a sizable 24.7s gap to make up just to reach Suninen.

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