Ostberg extends lead, Neuville suffers costly puncture

Thierry Neuville saw his title hopes take a hit at Rally Australia

Mads Ostberg has extended his lead at Kennards Hire Rally Australia as drama struck World Rally Championship title contender Thierry Neuville.

The Citroen driver has moved into 6.2s advantage over Toyota’s Jari-Matti Latvala with Citroen’s Craig Breen in third after Stage 6.

It proved to be an eventful loop of afternoon stages with championship hopeful Neuville losing time on the final test when he ran into a hay bale, which marked out a chicane on the second run through Sherwood.

The impact was only slight on the i20 but caused the Belgian to lose 21 seconds.

However, worse was to follow as Neuville, who is three points behind Sebastien Ogier in the standings, suffered a left rear puncture. 

The tyre came off the rim upon landing from a jump.

As a result, Neuville has dropped to 10th with the Hyundai driver 1:12.8s adrift of the rally leader Ostberg.

“I push like crazy, this was worse than this morning – I was on the limit, including on the jump,” said Neuville.

“On the landing of a jump the tyre came off the rim.”

Championship leader Ogier has moved to seventh in the M-Sport Ford while fellow title contender Ott Tanak (Toyota) has climbed to fifth which was helped by a victory on Stage 4.

Tanak’s run was not without drama though as he tore the front from his Yaris after going through a water splash on Stage 5 (Coldwater II).   

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon has jumped to fourth overall in the only other remaining Hyundai after Andreas Mikkelsen suffered a crash having lost concentration when an event tractor appeared on the live stage.  

In the Australian Rally Championship, Harry Bates continues to hold a commanding lead over Steve Glenney.

The crews will now complete two runs through the Destination New South Wales Super Special stage held on the Coffs Harbour Jetty this evening.

Rally Australia: After Special Stage 6 (Top 10)

Pos Num Driver Nat Team Car   Time/Gap
1 10 Mads Ostberg NOR Citroen C3 WRC 50:47.3
2 7 Jari-Matti Latvala FIN Toyota Gazoo Yaris WRC +6.2
3 11 Craig Breen IRL Citroen C3 WRC +7.5
4 6 Hayden Paddon NZL Hyundai i20 WRC +9.7
5 8 Ott Tanak EST Toyota Gazoo Yaris WRC +19.9
6 9 Esapekka Lappi FIN Toyota Gazoo Yaris WRC +29.0
7 1 Sebastien Ogier FRA M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC +41.7
8 3 Teemu Suninen FIN M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC +45.2
9 2 Elfyn Evans GBR M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC +45.4
10 5 Thierry Neuville BEL Toyota Gazoo Yaris WRC +1:12.8

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