Split-second drama set for final day of WRC Rally Australia
The final day of WRC Rally Australia is poised to deliver a split-second four-way battle on Sunday.
After crews waited at the regroup zone in the small town of Bowraville for darkness, they raced through the 7.94km Valla night stage to complete the 117km of second day of action in Coffs Harbour.
The short stage produced a reshuffle of the leader board with Volkswagen’s world champion Sebastien Ogier (France) grabbing the rally lead away from Citroen’s Kris Meeke (Northern Ireland) who had led throughout the day.
With dust becoming an issue with each car through the night stage – in spite of organisers stretching the gap between cars to 5mins – Ogier won the final stage and will take a lead of just 0.3secs over Meeke into Sunday.
Volkswagen’s Jari-Matti Latvala (Finland) goes into the Sunday stages in third position trailing Meeke by 2.3secs and with a gap of 6.5secs over team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway).
Hayden Paddon in fifth position
New Zealand’s Hayden Paddon ended the day with fifth fastest time and holds the same position overall. The Kiwi Hyundai driver is 10.3secs behind Mikkelsen and has a margin of 19.7secs over Ford Fiesta driver Ott Tanak (Estonia).
Hayden Paddon during a stop in the WRC Rally Australia. Picture/ Greg Henderson Photography.
The only other New Zealand competitor at Rally Australia is Christchurch co-driver David Calder teamed with Coffs Harbour driver Nathan Quinn (Mitsubishi Lancer Evo9).
Ahead of the night stage they had climbed to 13th overall today and Quinn is the best-placed Australian driver and also leads the FIA Production Cup category.
The five-stage final day with 68.7km of competition starts at 9.10am (NZ time).