Volkswagen Motorsport is poised to bring its four-year World Rally Championship programme to a close with an emotional 1-2 finish at WRC Rally Australia today.
An eventful first loop of Sunday stages to the north of Coffs Harbour this morning has seen rally leader Andreas Mikkelsen (Norway) extend his rally lead to 22.7secs over Volkswagen team-mate and four-time world champion Sebastien Ogier (France) with only two stages remaining.
The separation between the VW duo was stretched when Ogier spun near the end of the second stage of the morning and lost about 15secs.
Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville (Belgium) now runs in third place, a position that if he can maintains to the finish this afternoon will put runner-up honours in the Driver’s championship just beyond Mikkelsen’s reach.
The Hyundai team is running in formation with Spaniard Dani Sordo in fourth place and New Zealander Hayden Paddon now fifth. Paddon lost nearly a minute and third place when he drove about two-thirds of the 32.9km Bucca stage with a punctured left rear tyre and is now 1.1secs behind Sordo.
After a solid run through the first two days on his debut in Australia, young Frenchman Eric Camilli rolled his Ford Fiesta out of the rally and seventh position in the first run through the Wedding Bells stage.
Just two stages and 12.64km of competitive driving remain before the finish ceremony in downtown Coffs Harbour at 5.15pm (NZ) today.