Thursday | 03 Sep 2015

Australia countdown: rally rewind 2014

Sébastien Ogier led Volkswagen’s first podium clean sweep at Coates Hire Rally Australia 2014 as the German squad secured its second consecutive FIA World Rally Championship manufacturers’ title. Here’s how last year’s rally played out.

Friday 12 September

A tight opening leg ended with Ogier grabbing the lead from Polo R team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala in the final stage, but things were so close that eight seconds covered the top five.

The Frenchman led initially despite being first in the start order, but as conditions dried he bore the brunt of road sweeping and fell to fourth.

Kris Meeke moved Citroën’s DS 3 to the front and headed Latvala until the penultimate stage, but both were edged out by Ogier in the final test. Latvala might well have led overnight had it not been for soft brakes in the opening stage.

Andreas Mikkelsen snatched third in the final two short tests in Coffs Harbour as Meeke dropped to fourth, while Mikko Hirvonen completed the top five. Thierry Neuville was among the leaders but broken suspension cost two minutes and sent him plunging down the order.

Kris Meeke - fourth after penalty

Saturday 13 September

A shrewd tyre call from Ogier enabled him to end the second leg 11.8sec clear of Latvala after outguessing the Finn during the afternoon when the threat of rain prompted a myriad of different tyre selections.

Latvala snatched top spot in the morning but his advantage was wiped out when the tests were repeated. Forecasts suggested rain but the roads remained dry and Ogier’s option of three hard and one soft tyre proved well-matched to the conditions.

Meeke and Mikkelsen swapped places four times, but Mikkelsen retained third by 1.5sec. However, Meeke was later penalised more than a minute for cutting a corner illegally and dropped to fifth behind Hirvonen.

Sunday 14 September

Ogier held off Latvala in a tense finale to win for the second straight year by 6.8sec, with Mikkelsen completing Volkswagen’s podium lockout a further 1min 11.2sec behind.

Meeke regained fourth from Hirvonen, while Hayden Paddon matched a career-best sixth in a Hyundai i20. He dueled with Mads Østberg until the Norwegian’s DS 3 suffered broken rear right suspension and dropped off the leaderboard.

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