Briton Kris Meeke posted the fastest time at this morning’s Shakedown test for Coates Hire Rally Australia.
The Citroen DS3 driver was quickest by 0.4sec from his team-mate Mads Ostberg. Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville was third, another 0.4sec further back.
The test took place on a 4.98km section of the Hydes Creek special stage on the outskirts of host town Coffs Harbour.
Meeke made three passes, setting his best time of 2m52.9 on his final run. “It felt comfortable and good,” he said. “This shakedown is a good representation of the rally. I adjusted a few settings between runs and I think we’re in the ball park with the set-up. We’ll see."
Conditions were warm and sunny throughout the session, but there was evidence of recent rain on the clay and gravel surface.
Meeke said: “Last year it was very, very dry and dusty, but there’s been a bit of rain in the the last two weeks and the road is still a bit humid in some sections under the trees. That can make some corners very slippery, so you have to be on your guard.
“There’s not as much dust around either - the gravel is a little more bound together. Still, I think road cleaning will be a big issue for the front-runners. I’m eighth on the road, and I’ll take that…”
Volkswagen driver Jari-Matti Latvala was fourth quickest, and said he was enjoying driving his Polo R again after crashing out of ADAC Rallye Deutschland. “The car felt really good, it’s nice to drive and I’m enjoying it,” he said. “The set-up is based on what we had in Finland, just a little softer. I’m happy.”
Championship leader Sebastien Ogier and Mikko Hirvonen were joint fifth-fastest.
The competitive action in Australia kicks off on Friday 12 September, with the opening Hydes Creek stage starting at 0918hrs local time [CET +8 hours].
Top ten Shakedown times
|M. Hirvonen||M-Sport Ford||2m54.4s|
|R. Kubica||M-Sport Ford||2m54.9s|