This is super fast and for the final 10km it would be a surprise if the drivers dropped out of top gear anywhere. With a few jumps as well, the final half is comparable to Finland. It is narrow in places and based on clay, with a sandy top in some areas. It is a new stage but uses roads from the 2011 Plum Pudding test.
How the action unfolded:
While many of the drivers in the top 10 adopted a more cautious approach through Sunday’s second stage, Volkswagen’s title hopeful Sebastien Ogier kept his foot down to take another stage win.
Thierry Neuville was Ogier’s closest challenger on Wedding Bells, completing 1.4sec slower in his Ford Fiesta RS.
“I enjoyed that,” said Neuville. “I have a lot of confidence, my pace notes are good and I have found a good rhythm. No we have to stay like this all the way to the finish.”
Ogier’s team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala was third fastest, and feeling right at home on the roads north of Coffs Harbour. “That was really enjoyable, for me probably the best stage of the rally,” he said. “The roads were a bit more open, and even in the forest sections it was very quick and a bit like Finland, so it suits my driving style.”
Almost one minute off Ogier’s lead, second placed Mikko Hirvonen was fourth fastest and focused on maintaining the position. “All I’m doing is trying to control my situation. No problems,” he said.
Having slipped to sixth on the previous stage, Andreas Mikkelsen was seventh fastest, and another to admit that survival was now the priority. “Everything is fine, I’m just driving really, really slowly and carefully,” he said. “I’ve nothing to gain and everything to lose, so I need to drive safely.”