Irishman Kris Meeke is seizing the opportunity to cement a full-time place in the World Rally Championship after topping qualifying for Coates Hire Rally Australia.
Meeke nailed the quickest time on the 5.54km qualifying stage north of Coffs Harbour, clocking 2:39.268s in his Citroen to pip Volkswagen’s World Rally Champion elect Sebastien Ogier (2:39.604).
Thierry Neuville (Ford) is the closest to Ogier in WRC points going into the Australian rally and was third fastest.
Meeke and co-driver Chris Patterson are looking to make a statement in their DS3 for the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. They are literally driving for a manufacturer gig in the 2014 WRC.
“It was a nice morning and quite a nice stage and it was still a bit slippery,” Meeke , a Citroen guest driver, explained.
“When I heard Seb’s (Ogier’s) time over the radio on my way to the stage I thought that was going to take some beating.
“You really work hard all your career to get a factory drive. Everything depends on my result at Rally Australia for my future.”
Mads Ostberg, Andreas Mikkelsen, Mikko Hirvonen and Evgeny Novikov were next in the qualifying order.
Jari-Matti Latvala, Khalid Al Qassimi and local driver Nathan Quinn rounded out the top 10.
The drivers will choose the position they will start on the road later today.