WRC - Rally Australia: Ogier step closer to third world title
Sebastien Ogier (Volkswagen Motorsport) is the leader after Day 2 of Rally Australia, tenth round of World Rally Championship. After twelve special stages, reigning World champion had just 0.3 seconds advantage ahead of Citroen Racing’s Kris Meeke and 2.6 seconds ahead of his Volkswagen teammate Jari-Matti Latvala. Fourth placed Andreas Mikkelsen (Volkswagen) is 9.1 seconds slower than Ogier, so with five more stages tomorrow all of them are still candidates for victory.
Five drivers won special stages so far, with four of them changed in the lead. Dani Sordo (Hyundai Motorsport) was the fastest one in three opening stages on Friday, but Meeke overtook the lead with a victory at SS4. In the second loop of four stages on Friday, Latvala was the fastest one three times and Ogier once, so Latvala finished Day 1 as the leader.
Hayden Paddon (Hyundai) was the fastest at Saturday’s opening two stages, including a marathon 50-km Nambucca stage. Ogier was the fastest in second passage through the same stages. In overall classification Meeke retook the lead from Latvala, but only until the last stage when Ogier jumped to the first place.
Of 11 drivers with WRC machines two have retired. Stephane Lefebvre (Citroen), who is driving instead of injured Mads Ostberg, hit a rock on last Friday’s stage and broke the front right wishbone on his DS3 WRC. He restarted on Saturday with a time penalty and his goal is to finish the race and get at least one point for team classification. Lorenzo Bertelli (Ford Fiesta RS WRC) retired on Saturday’s first stage because of an engine problem.
Five more special stages are scheduled for Sunday, with a total of 68 competitive kilometers. With current classification, or even with a second place, Sebastien Ogier will secure his third consecutive world championship title, with three more rallies until the end of the season (Tour de Corse, RallyRACC Catalunya, Wales RallyGB).
Photos: Volkswagen Motorsport, Hyundai Motorsport