Ogier sets the pace in Rally Aus shakedown
Championship leader Sebastien Ogier has set the pace in shakedown as crews prepare for the crucial Kennards Hire Rally Australia title decider in Coffs Harbour.
The reigning World Rally Champion clocked a 2:53.8s through the tricky Wedding Bells test held in dry conditions.
Ogier (M-Sport Ford) holds a slender three point lead in the championship over Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville who was 0.3s back in fourth.
Hyundai’s Andreas Mikkelsen emerged as Ogier’s nearest rival in second just 0.2s adrift while Toyota’s title contender Ott Tanak was third.
Tanak is 23 points shy of Ogier in the championship with the latter due to face the disadvantage of being first on the road when the rally begins on Friday.
Expected wet weather could help Ogier stem the loss of time tomorrow.
“It is a weekend where there is no question about the strategy, we have to go flat out from the start,” said Ogier.
“Friday is very important because you need to quickly get a good start position for the rest of the weekend.
“It was a good feeling this morning in the shakedown so bring on tomorrow.”
Craig Breen was the top Citroen runner in fifth ahead of New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon (Hyundai).
The Shakedown top 10 was completed by Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota), Esapekka Lappi (Toyota), Teemu Suninen (Ford) and Elfyn Evans (Ford).
Harry Bates was the top Australian runner in 17th spot in his factory Toyota Gazoo Racing AP4 specification Yaris.
Rally Australia begins with a run through the 8.77km run through Orara East at 0803 local time.
Rally Australia: Shakedown (Top 10)
|1||1||Sebastien Ogier||FRA||M-Sport Ford||Fiesta WRC||2:53.8|
|2||4||Andreas Mikkelsen||NOR||Hyundai||i20 WRC||+0.2|
|3||8||Ott Tanak||EST||Toyota Gazoo||Yaris WRC||+0.2|
|4||5||Thierry Neuville||BEL||Toyota Gazoo||Yaris WRC||+0.3|
|5||11||Craig Breen||IRL||Citroen||C3 WRC||+0.8|
|6||6||Hayden Paddon||NZL||Hyundai||i20 WRC||+0.9|
|7||7||Jari-Matti Latvala||FIN||Toyota Gazoo||Yaris WRC||+1.1|
|8||9||Esapekka Lappi||FIN||Toyota Gazoo||Yaris WRC||+1.2|
|9||3||Teemu Suninen||FIN||M-Sport Ford||Fiesta WRC||+1.3|
|10||2||Elfyn Evans||GBR||M-Sport Ford||Fiesta WRC||+1.4|