WRC crews prepare for explosive final Rally Australia shootout
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The surviving crews at WRC Rally Australia are now just one stage away from the finish of the rally following the cancellation of the penultimate stage.
This morning’s torrential rain at Coffs Harbour has made access roads leading to the 9.93km Pilbara stage impassable and the stage has been cancelled.
The rally will be decided by a sprint finish through the 6.44km Wedding Bells live TV stage with WRC Power Stage bonus points on offer.
Belgian Theirry Neuville (Hyundai) is poised to claim his fourth victory of the season as he holds a 14.7s lead over Finland’s Jari-Matti Latvala (Toyota).
Hayden Paddon meanwhile has delivered a Sunday morning stage win and has climbed into fourth position.
With heavy rain squalls hitting the region just north of Coffs Harbour this morning, Paddon was the last of the leading runners to enjoy a largely clear run through the 31.9km Bucca stage.
He posted his first stage victory of the rally and the conditions rapidly became a quagmire behind him, to the extent that rally leader Thierry Neuville (Belgium)was 35.9secs slower than his Kiwi Hyundai team-mate.
Paddon said he will take a low-risk strategy into the final two stages this afternoon.
"We got lucky with the weather in the long one. We had a little bit of rain through the middle of it but the guys behind got a lot more rain,’’ said Paddon.
"The car felt better. We made another big change last night with a different diff map. We are just trying to get information for the future.
"With Seb [world champion Sebastien Ogier] getting a minute penalty, we are in no-man’s land and with conditions like this I’m prepared to drive like a blouse and just bring it home.
"We’ve got nothing to gain and with the year we’ve had, we don’t want any more mistakes.’’
The stage starts at 3.18pm (NZ time) and is being screened live on SkySport from 3pm.