Sebastien Ogier closes on Rally Australia lead
Four-times World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier has produced a sublime performance to be on the cusp of taking the lead in Kennards Hire Rally Australia at Coffs Harbour.
After a tantalising return loop through the 50.8km Nambucca and 14.8km Valla stages, Ogier and co-driver Julien Ingrassia have reduced the gap to Volkswagen team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen co-driver Anders Jaeger to 2.8s.
New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon and co-driver John Kennard (Hyundai i20) are third overall, 10.1s from the lead entering tonight’s Super Special Stages 17 and 18 across the 1.2km waterfront blast.
Fourth-placed Thierry Neuville and Nicolas Gilsoul are fourth ahead of fellow Hyundai factory driver Dani Sordo and Marc Marti.
Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala turned in a hero run through the second Nambucca pass, topping the stage by .9s over Ogier but destroyed his tyres in the process.
On the next run, Neuville put in a commanding drive to top SS16, pipping Ogier by .6s.
Through this run Mikkelsen was beset with the odd situation where his clutch had been dispositioned and was depressing the brake pedal.
While there may be no positional changes at the top following the Super Special passes, the stage is set for a thrilling finish through the SS19-SS23 closing runs on the final day.
Meanwhile in the Australian Rally Championship, Harry Bates and John McCarthy have seized the lead outright after the afternoon stages in their Toyota Corolla S2000.
Simon Evans and co-driver Ben Searcy lost their lead after being hit with two punctures on the Nambucca stage, forcing them out of the equation.
The Bates/McCarthy Corolla now leads by 2:52.6s from Mark Pedder and Dale Moscatt (Peugeot 208) while Molly Taylor and Bill Hayes are third in their Subaru Impreza WRX STi.
Overall: Top 20 after SS16
|1.||9||A. MIKKELSEN||A. JAEGER SYNNEVAG||VOLKSWAGEN MOTORSPORT II||T||RC1||2:13:02.2|
|2.||1||S. OGIER||J. INGRASSIA||VOLKSWAGEN MOTORSPORT||M||RC1||2:13:05.0||+2.8||+2.8|
|3.||4||H. PADDON||J. KENNARD||HYUNDAI MOTORSPORT||M||RC1||2:13:12.3||+7.3||+10.1|
|4.||3||T. NEUVILLE||N. GILSOUL||HYUNDAI MOTORSPORT||M||RC1||2:13:34.8||+22.5||+32.6|
|5.||20||D. SORDO||M. MARTI||HYUNDAI MOTORSPORT N||T||RC1||2:14:01.1||+26.3||+58.9|
|6.||5||M. OSTBERG||O. FLOENE||M-SPORT WORLD RALLY TEAM||M||RC1||2:14:01.3||+0.2||+59.1|
|7.||6||E. CAMILLI||B. VEILLAS||M-SPORT WORLD RALLY TEAM||M||RC1||2:14:17.2||+15.9||+1:15.0|
|8.||12||O. TANAK||R. MOLDER||DMACK WORLD RALLY TEAM||T||RC1||2:15:18.7||+1:01.5||+2:16.5|
|9.||37||L. BERTELLI||S. SCATTOLIN||F.W.R.T.||RC1||2:17:56.5||+2:37.8||+4:54.3|
|10.||31||E. LAPPI||J. FERM||SKODA MOTORSPORT||WRC2||RC2||2:18:21.0||+24.5||+5:18.8|
|11.||2||J. LATVALA||M. ANTTILA||VOLKSWAGEN MOTORSPORT||M||RC1||2:20:33.1||+2:12.1||+7:30.9|
|12.||42||N. FUCHS||F. MUSSANO||NICHOLAS FUCHS||WRC2||RC2||2:22:08.8||+1:35.7||+9:06.6|
|13.||33||H. PTASZEK||M. SZCZEPANIAK||PEUGEOT SPORT SLOVAKIA||WRC2||RC2||2:23:39.3||+1:30.5||+10:37.1|
|14.||65||H. BATES||J. MCCARTHY||NEAL BATES||ASN||2:26:43.9||+3:04.6||+13:41.7|
|15.||67||M. TAYLOR||W. HAYES||LES WALKDEN||RC2||2:29:51.0||+3:07.1||+16:48.8|
|16.||68||B. MARKOVIC||G. MACNEALL||BRAD MARKOVIC||ASN||2:33:48.0||+3:57.0||+20:45.8|
|17.||72||T. SULLENS||K. NEWELL||TONY SULLENS||ASN||2:34:39.3||+51.3||+21:37.1|
|18.||70||D. KING||D. NICOLI||DYLAN KING||ASN||2:37:27.8||+2:48.5||+24:25.6|
|19.||76||T. CLARKE||R. PRESTON||TOM CLARKE||ASN||2:39:36.8||+2:09.0||+26:34.6|
|20.||75||S. RAYMOND||G. RAYMOND||STEPHEN RAYMOND||RC4||2:43:02.6||+3:25.8||+30:00.4|
VIDEO: Kennards Hire Rally Australia Stage 15-16 Highlights