Ford in command after eight stages

Latvala sits second after winning Stage 8

Latvala sits second after winning Stage 8

The Ford Abu Dhabi World Rally Team will head into tonight’s Castrol EDGE Super Special Stages with a healthy lead in Rally Australia.

Mikko Hirvonen sits 6.6s clear of team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala following the weather-affected running of the day’s forest stages.

The pair shared the Stage 7 and 8 wins, with Latvala benefitting from running behind Hirvonen on the road to claw back 2.8s in Stage 8.

Citroen privateer Petter Solberg is third, 41.4s off the lead, while Henning Solberg trails his brother by a further 1:43s.

Ford drivers Matthew Wilson and Khalid Al Qassimi continue to round out the WRC runners, while New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon is seventh in his Production specification Subaru.

Disaster struck six of the 12 WRC cars entered for the event today, with Evgeny Novikov (Ford) and Peter van Merksteijn (Citroen) joining the list of opening leg retirements having hit a rock and suffered two punctures respectively in Stage 7.

Loeb's car back at service. pic: Luke Elvy, via Twitter

Loeb's car back at service. pic: Luke Elvy, via Twitter

Crashes for Ken Block (SS3), Sebastien Loeb (SS4) and Sebastien Ogier (SS6) highlighted the day, while the privately entered Mini of Daniel Oliveira also failed to pass through the treacherous Stage 6.

CLICK HERE for more on Ogier’s crash

CLICK HERE for more on Loeb’s crash

Two passes through the Castrol EDGE Super Special Stage will be held tonight before the cars return to the forest for Stage 11 tomorrow morning.

It is not yet known if the cars of Block, Loeb and Ogier will be fit to take advantage of the SupeRally rules and rejoin the rally.

See below for the Rally Australia Race Guide

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