Meeke fastest at Australia shakedown
Citroen DS3 driver quickest by 0.4sec
The rally opener is a new stage but features 3km of roads used in the opposite direction last year. It’s technical with many surface changes, varying from mud to loose gravel and clay.
Sébastien Ogier surprised himself by setting the pace through this morning’s opening test at Coates Hire Rally Australia.
He outpaced team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen by 4.4sec, with Kris Meeke a further 1.2sec back in his Citroen DS3. “No problem for me. For sure I will not be fastest but it was a good stage,” Ogier told WRC Live.
Behind the top three it wasn’t all plain sailing, with Jari-Matti Latvala reporting brake problems in his Polo R. “They were very soft and I didn’t have any confidence. I have to try to bleed them to make them better because it was difficult to drive like this,” said the Finn, who was fifth behind Mikko Hirvonen.
Mads Østberg dropped almost 20sec in his DS3 after overshooting a corner near the finish. “I’m not sure what happened. There was nothing wrong with the pace notes but the car understeered and I couldn’t get into the corner. I had to turn around,” said the Norwegian.
Thierry Neuville had a similar incident after losing concentration in his Hyundai I20. “I had a big, big landing on the nose when the rear kicked up at a bump in sixth gear. Afterwards I was checking the water temperature all the time and went late into a junction,” he explained.
Robert Kubica spun his Ford Fiesta RS and Hayden Paddon admitted he was lucky to escape when a jump spat his i20 off the road and into the undergrowth. The Kiwi was still sixth quickest.