Sunday | 14 Sep 2014

Latvala claws time back from Ogier

Jari-Matti Latvala narrowed the deficit to leader Sébastien Ogier in Sunday’s opening special stage at Coates Hire Rally Australia.

SS15: Shipmans 1

Sunday’s opener was shortened by 5.48km but is otherwise similar to 2013. The road surface was a mix of gravel and clay with a deep watersplash near the start and several tricky crests.

— WRC Stage Notes

The Finn was fastest through Shipmans by 2.0sec to reduce the gap to Volkswagen Polo R team-mate Ogier to 9.8sec.

“It was a good run but two seconds isn’t massive when you want around four or five,” said Latvala. “It’s the right direction and there’s a bit of pressure on him, so that’s good.”

Ogier was 1.5sec faster in the early part but eased his pace to allow Latvala ahead. “I tried to back off a little and started to lose too much time. No alarm. A gap of less than 10sec at this level is not comfortable but I have to do my job and then it will be fine,” he said.

Kris Meeke, who was relegated one position in the standings by event stewards late last night after cutting a corner, quickly disposed of Mikko Hirvonen to regain fourth in his Citroen DS3. The Briton is now 2.6sec ahead of the Finn’s Ford Fiesta RS.

Hirvonen appeared distracted at the end of the stage, a red warning light in the cockpit perhaps the reason for his concern.

Hayden Paddon closed on Mads Østberg in their fight for sixth. The Kiwi was 4.2sec faster in his Hyundai i20 to narrow the gap to 3.1sec.

In WRC 2, Yazeed Al Rajhi moved back into the lead, his advantage over Nasser Al-Attiyah 3.3sec.

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